by Nathan Brandon, founder and CEO of PureGreen Lawn Care Company
With the weather cooling down, it’s time to dig out the shovel, gloves and fertilizer. Fall is a crucial time for lawns, especially in Middle Tennessee where hot summers are tough on grass and plants. Turf is recovering from the heat and preparing for winter. Whether you have warm-season grass or cool-season grass, there are a few things that will help the process and enable your turf to be green and gorgeous all year long.
Determining the type of grass you have will tell you what to do in the fall as different grasses respond to different treatments. However, there are a few tasks that will help your lawn regardless of the type:
· Determine soil pH and correct accordingly. If a soil test indicates you need to lower acidity, apply lime. If you need to decrease alkalinity, apply sulfur. How much will be determined by the grass type.
· Reduce thatch build-up. This is where aeration comes in. Fall is the perfect time to aerate soil. It allows soil to breath, water to seep down to roots and for the roots to better absorb nutrients.
· Rake leaves. It’s important to keep leaves raked in the fall. Otherwise, the leaves will suffocate grass during winter months.
· Maintain lawn equipment. Fall is a great time to sharpen those mower blades and empty gas cans (after the last cut, of course).
Tips for specific grass types
So what type of grass do you have? Knowing your grass type will change how you care for it.
Do you have a warm-season grass such as Bermuda grass or zoysia grass? These grasses actively grow in warm weather, which is why they are so widely used in the south. For these grasses, you will want to fertilize earlier in the fall. Fertilize too late, and it will affect the hardening-off and natural winterizing process. Is your lawn entirely a warm-season grass? If so, consider over-seeding with a cool-season grass like perennial ryegrass. Over time, this will give you a green lawn in all seasons. This will promote a green lawn throughout the fall, winter and early spring. However, overseeding is not recommended for zoysia grass.
Cool-season grasses include the fescue grasses, Kentucky bluegrass, bent grass, and rye grass. Fertilizing and watering are very important for these grasses in fall. This is the prime time for storing water and nutrients to survive the harshness of winter. However, you can back off of watering as cool-season grasses don’t need as much volume in fall because it’s not as hot and dry. Over-seeding has it’s benefits for cool-season grass as well. If you have bare spots, over-seeding can fill the gaps.
All lawns will receive fertilizer very well in the fall. This is because the weather is cooler and the grass is less stressed. Fall brings cooler days and nights, shorter days, and there tends to be more rainfall. All of these factors will aid soil in absorbing the nutrients in fertilizer.
Nathan Brandon is the founder and CEO of PureGreen Lawn Care Company in Franklin. With 20 years of experience in lawn care and 10 years as an active member of the Entrepreneurs Organization, Brandon focuses on using environmentally friendly methods and organic products to provide services to homes and sports fields in the Nashville and Williamson County areas.