September is the best time of year for getting your lawn in shape.
This time of year the temperatures start to cool down, especially at night, reducing the stress of summer heat. However, importantly, the weather in September is still warm enough to promote vigorous lawn growth. This time of year is the perfect balance of cool nights and warm days making almost any action you take extremely effective.
Now you are probably wondering is Spring a good time to get my lawn in shape? While we also recommend working on your lawn every Spring, there are a few downsides in Spring that make September the all-round best month of the year. In the Spring, often, it is too cool during the day to promote vigorous lawn growth. Secondly, the Spring is always followed by the Summer months which always put extreme stress on a lawn through drought and heat. New seed germinated in Spring will often struggle under the stresses of Summer, whereas seed germinated in September will have all Autumn, Winter, and Spring to get established before having to bear the burdens of Summer.
When you set your plans for September do not delay because once the leaves start dropping, often in October, it is no longer ideal for germinating new seed. Speaking of leaves, when they begin to fall, it is important to remove them off your lawn at least once every two weeks. The leaves will block light to the lawn and prevent the lawn from continuing to make photosynthesis in the fall when it is important your lawn stores up energy for its winter dormancy.
8 Essential Fall Lawn Care Tasks
- Fertilize – Most lawn experts agree if you are only going to fertilize once a year, Fall is the best time of year to do it. By applying fertilizer in September, the grass grows deeper roots and keeps these essential nutrients in reserve using them the following spring. This ensures a healthy and lush lawn after winter’s thaw.
- Lime – At least 1x per season we recommend applying granular lime to your lawn. Lime helps create the ideal pH for your lawn. Having the proper pH is important because grass will only absorb the nutrients it requires if the soil is at a desirable pH. If your lawn is not at a desirable pH then it will be unable to absorb nutrients, such as the fertilizer you have applied.
- Aerate – Aerating is creating small holes in the lawn. This allows oxygen, water, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil down to the roots of your lawn. Aerating in September is of utmost importance because after the dryness and heat of Summer the lawn is very compacted. Aerating your lawn alleviates soil compaction.
- Weed Control – Controlling weeds that may have proliferated over the Summer is an essential part of Fall lawn care. Although it may seem counterintuitive because it is the end of the season, dealing with weeds in the Fall can often prevent many of them from returning in the Spring. Weeds, like most plants, absorb as much energy as they can during the Autumn months and therefore it is important to remove them either by hand or with an herbicide.
- Seeding – September is the ideal time of year to seed your lawn because the cool nights and warm days promote germination. We recommend seeding your lawn every September.
- Dealing With Bare Spots – One of the best aspects of fall lawn care is that it’s an ideal time to take a step back and assess your overall lawn health. Your lawn has gone through Spring and the hot, often dry, months of Summer. More than likely, some spots have yellowed or died all together. Fall is the perfect time to address these areas. Bare spots can best be dealt with by applying topsoil and seed, whereas damaged areas can simply be over-seeded in order to improve the overall thickness.
- Continue Mowing – An important aspect of Fall lawn care is to continue mowing keeping in mind the 1/3 rule. The 1/3 rule recommends that you avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the total blade length at any one time. If you want to lower the overall height of the lawn for the last cut of the season, most experts agree that you can lower the height of your mower to one its lowest settings for only the last 1 or 2 mowings of the season.
- Continue Watering – In addition to mowing, we recommend you continue watering, especially if you planted new seed. Though the Fall is not as hot as Summer, it can often be just as dry. With the lack of heat, it is easy to lose track of the precipitation.