Fall Lawn Care
Summer is tough on lawns! High temperatures and consistently high humidity levels left many of us with dead patches of grass or thin grass stands. The good news is that temperatures are cooling off. This promotes increased growth in cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and Tall fescue, making now the perfect time to repair any damage the summer left behind in your lawn.
Many lawns are damaged in summer by insects or fungal diseases like Brown Patch, Summer Patch (or FrogEye), and Dollar Spot. Fall is the ideal time to repair this damage by overseeding.
Begin by raking out the dead grass in damaged areas, or by having the lawn aerated. Next, overseed with a disease resistant grass variety that matches your existing turf. Finally, keep the overseeded areas consistently moist while the new grass germinates.
Tall fescue lawns should be overseeded from August 20-September 20. next spring. Kentucky bluegrass should be seeded from September 1-October 15.
Lawns that have light insect or disease damage can be encouraged to recover with an application of fertilizer. Apply 1 lb. of Nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet to Kentucky bluegrass lawns from early to mid September. Tall fescue lawns should receive a rate of 1/2 lb. of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Use a slow release fertilizer containing a nitrogen source like sulfur-coated urea, IBDU or urea formaldehyde. This will provide the nutrients the turf needs to actively grow and replace the damaged leaf blades.
The final fertilization for both Kentucky bluegrass and Tall fescue lawns is applied from October 15- November 15. Again, 1 lb. of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is suggested using a slow release fertilizer. Over fertilization at this time could cause too much young, soft growth that would be susceptible to winter injury.
As your lawn recovers, additional watering will also be helpful. Weather conditions continue to be dry, so applying one inch of water per week will help the grass grow more quickly. Make two 1/2 inch applications of water per week. This encourages a deep root system that increases the overall health of the turf. More frequent waterings, or even daily waterings, are not recommended and will only promote increased insect and disease problems. One of the few times a turf area should be watered daily is during the germination process of new seedings.
Continue mowing your lawn at 2.5-3 inches for Kentucky Bluegrass lawns and 3-3.5 inches for dwarf type Tall Fescue lawns until it becomes dormant.