lawn in fall

What To Do In Your Yard This Season

Take the time to make sure your organic lawn is as healthy as can be.

September 18, 2015

Even if you have only a small plot of sod, you still want it to look its best and be free of problems. The cool-season grasses (bluegrasses, perennial ryegrass, and fescues) grown in the northern half of the United States need more care now than warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and St. Augustine). Whichever type of grass you have, there are some steps you should take this fall to ensure a healthy, green lawn next spring.

Get A Soil Test
Assessing your soil health now gives you time to correct nutrient deficiencies and pH problems before spring.


Related: The Dark Side of Lawns

Shred The Leaves
Fallen leaves can smother a lawn if left in place all winter. Use a mulching mower to shred leaves into vital organic matter that you can leave right on your lawn.

Throw Off Thatch
Compacted soil and too much thatch—an accumulation of undecayed and decaying plant matter at the soil surface—denies grass roots the air, water, and nutrients they need to thrive. (Thatching, by the way, is caused by excess fertilizing, not by mulching grass clippings.) Increasing organic matter will stimulate the soil microbes that consume thatch. If the problem is so bad that water cannot penetrate the thatch, remove the thatch now with a stiff rake or thatching rake.

Mow High
Continue to mow grass until it stops actively growing. For the final mowing of the season, cut cool-season grasses to 2½ inches and warm-season grasses between 1½ and 2 inches, which is just a little shorter than you should cut it during the spring and early autumn.

No Fast Food
Fertilize cool-season grasses in fall with a slow-release, organic fertilizer, such as Fall Lawns Alive! Application timing varies among regions, so check with your county extension office for local recommendations. Don't fertilize warm-season grasses in fall.

Prevent weedy patches next spring by seeding now. Grass seed grows well in fall because the temperatures are perfect for cool-season grass and because it has less competition from annual weeds. Just be sure to give the lawn enough time to establish itself before winter weather hits. Plant and renovate warm-season grasses in the spring.


Next Up From Rodale's Organic Life

EPA Bans New Toxic Weedkiller
The "stacked" formula was designed to spray on GMO crops.
What Gardeners Really Want For The Holidays
Wrap up one of these sustainably-minded presents for the special grower in your life.
Where Backyard Birds Go During Winter
Fix up your yard to be hospitable to year-round avian visitors.