With cooler nights as well as more and longer-lasting dew on the ground each morning, fall is the best time to improve lawns. If your lawn looks terrible due to a long summer drought, 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. This is one of the reasons I believe fall is the best time to improve lawns.
My Fall Lawn Regime
I believe that fall is the best time to improve lawns. I have more time to spend on my lawn in the fall but this belief is primarily due to my success with the following fall regime:
- adding composted manure and seed
- applying a fall fertilizer six weeks after seeding
- cutting the lawn shorter than usual before the first snowfall
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 is the best time to improve lawns with aerating.
Composted Manure vs Garden or Top 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.
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.
If you plan to reseed your lawn because it 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 that is 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 in September and again in November.
I promise this regime is not nearly as complicated as it sounds! Next summer your lawn will be grateful for the extra TLC you provide this fall. You too will be convinced that fall is the best time to improve lawns.