September and October are great months, full of activities……from football to pumpkin carving, cider consumption to color tours, the fall season is busy and enjoyable. Your activity (or lack of it) in fall when it comes to your turf can dictate how your lawn looks next year. That’s why you need to stop in the name of the “lawn.” The soil is warm in the fall following summer, much warmer than it is in spring following winter. We also generally get a good amount of natural rainfall in the fall. That makes it a good time to restore “lawn and order.” Pictured to the right is one of the most famous lawns in the world. I had opportunity this summer to tour the White House and I can tell you that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. You can tour the White House on a Washington visit by contacting the office of your Representative 6 months in advance of your visit, and providing some information, they’ll let you know if you’re on the list. Tours take place in the morning hours. This tradition was started by Thomas Jefferson. The first inhabitants of the White House were John and Abagail Adams. They were only there a short time, and lived in the White House while it was under construction. They were followed by Thomas Jefferson who considered it the people’s house and opened the house for visits in the morning, a tradition that continues today. Not as easy today to get in and drop by for a visit as in Jefferson’s day, but possible with the help of your representative. Anyhow, whether it’s the White House lawn or yours……fall is the time to give it a kick in the plants. Here are some things to consider for “Lawn-gevity”:
1) When we get some rain to revitalize the turf after summer heat and drought, fertilizing helps the turf recover. A fertilizer application helps with root growth in the warm soil, specifically tillering and rhizome growth which simply means……a thicker lawn. Fall is one of the, if not the, most important times of the year to feed your lawn.
2) September and October are the peak times of the year for grub feeding and damage to your lawn. The feeding of the roots combined with the lingering stress from summer can do some serious damage to neglected lawns. If you have a lot of starlings visiting your lawn to feed, or torn up patches of turf due to skunks or raccoons foraging for a snack (we call grubs lawn shrimp), you’ll first want to make sure the lawn stays well irrigated to minimize the grub damage. Secondly mark your calender for next year to apply an application of Merit in July. Finally, you may want to make a Dylox application this fall to control the grub population. Moist soil will mask turf injury by grubs, but the smell of skunks, the damage of raccoons and the presence of birds may be an indication that grub populations are high in your turf.
3) In point one I indicated the importance of feeding your lawn in the fall. It is also a great time to core aerate your lawn. It will help open up air spaces in the soil to encourage rhizome and tiller development. High traffic compacted lawns or high clay content soils will benefit from aerating in fall in combination with a fertilizer application. It will also give you some soil to seed contact for overseeding in thinned areas. The combination of aeration and overseeding along with feeding will make you the sheriff in charge of your turf extending the long arm of the “lawn.”