A healthy spring lawn has a lot to do with how it was cared for during the late summer. With a few simple steps, you can help boost the curb appeal of your property. Even more important, youíll be building a healthy lawn that can:
- Increase your homeís property value.
- Cool the air around your home, potentially leading to reduced energy costs.
- Purify the air by creating oxygen and absorbing pollutants and allergens.
- Reduce soil erosion.
- Recycle more water into the soil by reducing runoff.
- Improve the quality of water filtered into the soil.
The basics of late summer lawn care include:
Never cut off more than one-third of the grass height. Typically, this means keeping the grass around three inches tall. As fall sets in, gradually lower the blade on your mower so your lawn is shorter over the winter. This will let the ground dry out more easily next spring.
Thatch is organic matter that builds up between the soil and the grass. When it gets thick, it keeps water from getting down to the roots in the soil. Hire a lawn care company or rent a vertical mower or power rake to remove thatch thatís more than a half-inch thick.
Hire a lawn care company or rent a core aerator to remove plugs of soil from lawns with heavy clay or compacted soil. Aerating helps prevent thatch buildup and improves the circulation of air, water and nutrients into the soil.
Stimulate grass growth by applying fertilizer around Labor Day. In general, apply one pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Have the soil tested to determine the other nutrients your lawn needs. Prefer an alternative? Try an organic fertilizer mix, or mulch your grass clippings and leave them on the lawn to fertilize your grass naturally.
If you choose to apply broadleaf weed killer to perennial weeds like dandelions, creeping Charlie, and plantain, start treatments in September. A number of organic herbicides also are available for treating weeds. You may not see immediate results, but the weeds should be gone by spring.
Late summer or early fall is the best time to reseed your yard. Gently incorporate seeds into the soil using a spreader. Lightly water the newly seeded area until damp but not puddled. Then continue light applications of water several times a day to keep the top inch of soil and seeds moist.
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