[This article was originally published August 2020 and has been revised and updated.]
Fall is officially just a few days away. And one of the best things about fall is that it's a great time for lawn and yard preparation before winter comes.
But it also can mean a great deal of yard waste removal and landscaping debris to be gotten rid of.
Summer is at an End and Autumn has Begun
and it's this time of year when many homeowners and renters are looking forward to a break from the mowing and watering.
But wait! Before you put the lawn mower away and hang up your gardening gloves, you should know that, in most parts of the country, fall is a perfect time time to prepare your lawn for winter - and for the next mowing season.
Actually, for the most part in the United States, there are many lawn and landscaping tasks that are best done in the fall and early winter.
And for many people, probably one of the most important jobs is making sure that their lawns are going to be healthy and good-looking come the following spring. Of course, there are a few places where the "luxury" of a lawn has never been a part of the average homeowner's experience.
Like huge swaths of Arizona and New Mexico, for example. And there are many in the Western United States that have dealt with a major drought for so many years now that they've given up on their lawns altogether.
However, for most of the country, front yards and backyards are still pretty much full of lawn grass and dandelions.
Why Fall Lawn and Yard Preparation Matters
Most homeowners and tenants like having lush, green, and healthy lawns. Along with that coveted curb appeal, a great looking lawn offers a deep-seated sense of pride.
s the folks at This Old House point out,
"Among turf care experts, it's a well-known fact that the best way to ensure a thick, green, and healthy lawn in the spring is to give it some well-timed care in the fall—in other words, right now."
The main difference between a thin, yellowing expanse of struggling lawn grass and a truly beautiful lawn - both now and for the following spring - is providing two fall feedings.
Fertilizing in early fall provides the benefit of helping your lawn with rebuilding grassroots that may have been damaged during the hot, dry summer (Californians take note!) Also, since early fall is also a great time to kill several types of lawn weeds, such as dandelion and clover, "master" lawn care owners can achieve two objectives at once when they apply a "weed and feed" product to their lawns.
It is recommended to follow-up with a second fall feeding about six to eight weeks after your first fertilization of the fall season.
Another great way to help ensure a beautiful lawn for next year is with watering.
Most people tend to stop watering in the fall as the weather gets cooler. They often assume that there will be plenty of rain to take care of the water needs of their lawns. But while it may be true that there's more rain, more dew, and less evaporation at this time of year. But, depending on where you live, that may not be enough to keep your lawn's grass roots sufficiently hydrated and healthy as they go into the winter.
If your lawn isn't getting at least an inch of water a week, they you should keep your sprinklers or irrigation system going until close to the end of October. And if you're not sure how much rain your lawns are getting, an inexpensive rain gauge is a simple way to keep track.
Preparing Your Summer Lawn in the Fall
Fortunately, in most regions of the United States, there's very little outdoor upkeep to be done during the cold winter months, aside from shoveling snow perhaps. And, even if you don’t have winter snow in your neighborhood, you may still get some freezing temperatures and frost.
This is almost never a problem for your lawn, however, since most lawn grass will stay safely dormant until spring.
And if you properly prep your lawn during the last half of the fall season, it will be fine until spring arrives. This is true regardless of where you live and what types of grass your lawn has.
The Two Most Common Types of Lawn Grasses
While there is a wide variety of lawn grasses that can thrive in various parts of the United States, there are typically only two main types of grasses used in residential lawns: warm season grass and cool season grass. Which type you have usually depends on where you live.
Cool Season Grasses
The common ones are the Bluegrasses, Fescues and Ryegrasses. These grasses not only grow well in cold winter/warm summer regions, but they also tend to stay green throughout the year. In particularly dry periods, however, these grasses must be watered well or they go dormant and turn brown.
Warm Season Grasses
Bermuda grass, Zoysiagrass, Buffalo grass, and Bahia, are all warm season grasses. These are most often found in warmer climates like the south and on the west coast, and threirpeak growing season is from spring to fall. These grasses often turn brown during the winter months, but they also thrive in the hot summer heat.
Fall Season Lawn Care Tips
It may be fall, but that's when your lawn grass is absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients to survive the winter. Giving your lawn the proper care now will result in a more lush and healthy lawn next spring.
Here are some helpful tips for optimizing your lawn care this fall:
Continue to watering and mowing your lawn through the fall months. When winter gets close, gradually lower the mower blades to the lowest setting for the last couple of mowing sessions. This allows more sunlight to reach where the roots and shoots of the grass meet, and leaves less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
You should rake to remove dead leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. Repeat as needed. Start raking once the first leaves fall and don't wait until all the leaves have come down. IF you do, they will become wet from rain and create thick mats of organic material that can suffocate your grass and promote the growth of fungal diseases. You should also remove any debris and fallen branches as often as needed.
Fall is a great time to aerate your lawn. Aerating helps oxygen, water, and fertilizer to reach the roots of your lawn grass. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator which will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt. You can also hire a landscaping contractor if you have a very large yard or simply don't want to do it yourself.
Typically, the easiest way to repair bald spots in your lawn is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture that contain a mixture of grass seed, a quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and organic mulch. New bald spots are often formed in the fall and winter and one way to avoid this is to prevent excessive foot traffic on your winter lawn, especially if your grass is brown and short.
Fall is the best time to fertilize, especially if you only do so once a year. As the weather cools the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil's surface that produce the blades of grass above and the roots below. Sufficient and proper fertilizer in the fall provides the nutrients needed to help grass grow deep roots and provide additional nutrients for the spring.
Summer often brings broadleaf weeds like dandelions into your lawn. Fall is the best time to attack them. Weeds, like grass, are absorbing energy in the fall and drinking extensively, making them more vulnerable to weed killers. Applying a good herbicide in the fall prevents weeds from growing back in the spring.
What To Do With All The Waste
Once you've pulled it all together and your outdoor spaces are prepped for the winter, what do you do with the inevitable piles of leaves, grass trimmings, and other organic waste?
Here's a quick checklist to help you breeze through that chore:
Oh, and what about any old lawn furniture, landscaping features, and broken tools and equipment that needs to be gotten rid of?
No need to handle it all yourself when you can hire someone else to do it for you!
Handing Off Your Yard Debris and Junk Removal
Once you decide to outsource the waste hauling part of your fall preparation projects, you need to decide which firm is the right one for the job.
And we aren't shy about saying that Junk King really is the firm of choice.
Junk King provides an efficient, safe and eco-friendly waste disposal services so you don’t need to worry about the pick up or disposal of the debris after your project is complete.
Whether you need our services several times during a project or just once after it is complete, our hauling professionals will ensure that the debris is out of your way so that you can get on with the job.
Our teams specialize in both commercial and residential junk removal. We can be at your home or office in mere minutes, so call us today! Our crews are fully insured and well-trained, so you can trust them to get rid of your unwanted items in a professional and courteous fashion.
One of the best things about hiring Junk King is that we recycle a much of the material we pick-up. This is proof of our commitment to being an eco-friendly removal service. If you have questions about what we do or what we believe, give us a call at 1.888.888.JUNK (5865)