Fall is the Best Time to Improve your Lawn

With cooler nights as well as more and longer lasting dew on the ground each morning, fall is the best time to improve the quality of your lawn. If your lawn looks terrible due to the long drought we endured this summer, this post is for you!

Recovering from Summer

My lawn held up amazingly well (some weeds moved in along the curb, but the grass recovered) in the drought this summer, much better than many others in my neighbourhood, and also much better than it ever has other summers. I suspect the TLC I showed it last fall is the reason for that.

Fall lawn repair
front lawn

Fall Lawn Regime

That sign of success means I will be following a similar protocol this season:

  • aerating
  • adding composted manure and seed
  • applying a fall fertilizer six weeks after seeding
  • cutting the lawn shorter than usual before the first snowfall

Aerating

When you aerate, ensure you use a proper aerator (hire someone to do it for you) that digs out plugs of soil. The inexpensive, so-called aerating tools that you step on do more damage to your lawn as they compact the soil instead of aerating it.

Fall lawn repair
aerated lawn

Composted Manure vs Garden Soil for Lawns

I choose composted manure, either sheep or cattle/steer, because I have yet to find a bad bag of it. By bad I mean no weeds or junk in it. In the past I have purchased bags and loads of soil, from garden soil to black earth, that were loaded with weeds seeds, garbage and even cigarette butts. Never again! You can purchase composted manure at Home Depot, Lowes or locally at Ritchies Nurseries. I would not however, recommend the brand that Canadian Tire sells.

Fertilize

If you plan to fertilize your lawn, pay attention to the three numbers on the bags. In order, they represent the nutrient levels of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash/Potassium in the fertilizer. In September, as lawns recover from the summer weather, choose a fertilizer highest in Nitrogen for a slow growth.

Later in the fall, choose one with a higher middle number to stimulate root growth and protection over the winter.

Reseed

If you plan to reseed because your lawn has bare spots and lots of weeds, you should wait six weeks after seeding to apply fertilizer. Be sure too to invest in grass seed specific for your location and sun exposure. If you are one of the lucky ones and do not plan/need to reseed, you can fertilize twice as indicated, once now (September) and again in November.

I promise, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds! Next summer your lawn will be grateful for the extra TLC you provide this fall.

Are Grubs Destroying Your Lawn?

Many people are discovering that grubs, the larvae of some beetles, can destroy your lawn if not detected early and treated.

Although the most common destructive grub in Canada was originally from the native June bug, recent introductions of the Japanese beetle and the European chafer within the Niagara region have resulted in their migration further east and north in Ontario, causing havoc to lawns in eastern Ontario.

Adult June bugs are a shiny red-brown color, reaching up to 1 inch in length.  The Japanese beetle is much smaller, less than 1/2 inch long, with a metallic bronze and green color.  An adult European chafer is similar in size to the Japanese beetle, but tan or light brown in color.

All of these grubs have c-shaped bodies and six legs, however, the June bug larvae are white, while the larvae of the Japanese beetle and European chafer are a beige color. Upon hatching the grubs are tiny but reach a mature size of up to 1.5 inches.

Another major difference between the types of grubs is that the June bugs take 3 years to mature while the Japanese beetle and European chafer only take one year.  As a result, infestations of white grubs (June bugs larvae) happen every third year, while infestations of the other two types can happen annually.

grubs

Hopefully, you will not experience the damage these grubs can do!  If you do, I hope these tips help get rid of them quickly.

Watering your Garden and Lawn: When and How

drought conditions

In drought conditions like we have been experiencing here in the Ottawa (and most of Ontario) area, it is important that you know how and when to water your garden and lawns if you feel you must do so.

  • water plants in your garden at ground level, at the base of the plants.  Don’t spray the leaves of plants.  The hot sun will burn the wet foliage. (see pictures below)
  • water early in the morning or just before sunset so the water does not evaporate as quickly as it leaves your hose.
  • water well less frequently.  A long soak every few days is much better than a quick daily spray.  This encourages deep roots for your plants (and lawns too)
  • don’t forget to water your trees too.  Let water drip from a hose at the base of the tree for an hour when no rainfall is received for 4 or 5 hot days.
  • remember, lawns will recover, but many plants and trees will not

photo credit