The calendar may still say summer. But after Labor Day, the thermometer reads fall-like, especially in overnight temperatures which slow plant growth and signal autumn is approaching.
As nights cool, daily high temps will also become cooler as daylight hours get even shorter. Cooler nights combined with fewer hours of daylight slow lawn growth considerably. These changes mean it’s already time to decrease watering times on the irrigation system and it will soon be time to back off weekly lawn mowing. Grass in fall mode needs less water and less frequent mowing the closer we get to official start date of fall on September 22nd just two weeks away.
Use the shoulder season between summer and full-on fall to do a few lawn care chores that will mean a healthier, more vibrant lawn when spring arrives next year. Use the time you save by mowing less often, to plan and complete these end-of-season tasks:
- Continue reducing watering times on the sprinkler system.
- Apply a fall application of fertilizer. According to turf scientists at Colorado State University, the most effective lawn fertilization program begins in early fall and not early spring. Since plants do not distinguish between nutrients supplied by granular, liquid or organic fertilizers, they recommend selecting the product based on nutrients, convenience and price. And remember more is not better. Too much fertilizer over stimulates top growth.
- Core aerate the lawn before winterizing the sprinkler system. Aeration pulls plugs of soil and sod out of the lawn and these holes open the soil so that roots can take in maximum moisture during the winter.
- Zap turf weeds. Here’s your last chance this year to get after turf weeds. Giving one last round of control will pay off next spring with fewer weeds popping up at the start of the season.
Get expert help if you had fungus or other turf disease or insect problems this summer. Cultural practices such as fertilization and aeration go a long way to maintain a healthy lawn that resists disease. If you have persisting problems, have them properly diagnosed so you know what to do now and perhaps early next spring to get problems under control for good.
Enjoy the change seasons as petunias fade into pumpkins!
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