The best time to prepare your lawn to be healthy, believe it or not, is in the fall—before the snow falls and things go dormant for the season. This allows your lawn to absorb the nutrients it will need to become gorgeous come springtime.
1. Change how you mow. Once the fall sets in around early October, begin to mow your grass quite a bit shorter than you would during the summer. The ideal setting is about two inches: short enough that it will prevent the grass from matting under the snow, but long enough to keep the roots alive. The prevention of matting is important to keep the grass healthy while it is snow covered, and will lead to a thicker, fuller lawn come March and April.
2. Fertilize when the leaves start to change. Invest in a good quality fertilizer and begin applying it to your lawn according to the manufacturer’s directions after you begin to cut the lawn shorter in early October. The short grass allows the fertilizer to penetrate right down to the roots, where it will be stored and used once the grass begins to grow again when the weather warms up.
3. Re-seed your lawn. Applying more grass seed in the fall versus the spring will allow fresh, healthy grass to begin to grow in the spring. If you live in a warmer climate that does not experience much snow, you need only re-seed the dead and bare patches of your lawn. If you live in a cold climate and experience very snowy winters, re-seed the entire lawn, watering lightly until just prior to the first frost.
4. Attack weeds before they become a problem. The reign of the weeds will be over come autumn, but those pesky little plants are already t their return for the spring. Act now and use your weed killer of choice and spray the ground where problem weeds tend to erupt in the fall. Herbicides often work better in cooler, moist soil, so fall is actually the ideal time to apply them. Weeds preparing for winter under the ground readily take in nutrients, and will take in herbicide just as readily. This will also prevent straggler seeds from germinating.
5. Aerate your soil. Hire a pro and have your soil aerated just prior to the first frost. Aeration is a process that pulls small cork-sized plugs of grass and soil free from the ground, creating thousands of tiny holes. It allows for new grass to come in thicker. Of all the professional lawn services that are worth investing in, aeration is the best—and it is very affordable.