What to Do Now for the Fall Lawn

September 25, 2015


As lawns begin to come out of the stresses of summer heat and humidity, now’s the time to give them a bit of extra attention to prepare for winter. Follow the tips below to keep your lawn looking its best this fall.


  • Fertilize cool-season lawns in September and then again in November.


  • Core aerate cool-season lawns (fescue/bluegrass) to improve the movement of water, fertilizer and air into the lawn’s rootzone.


  • Mow tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass at between 2-1/2” to 3-1/2”.


  • As winter approaches, raise the mowing height on warm-season grasses (bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede) by 1/2″. In the Piedmont region, the mowing height is usually raised in mid- to late September. The mowing height of lawns in the western and northwestern areas of the Piedmont region may be raised one to two weeks earlier, whereas the mowing height in the south-central and southeastern regions may be raised one to two weeks later.


  • Check for white grubs and armyworms; control them if necessary. Read the insecticide label, and follow the directions carefully.


  • Also, check for chinch bug activity in sunny locations when yellow spots or drought symptoms appear. Push a coffee can (with both the top and bottom removed) into the ground, and fill it with water. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface. Treat the lawn only if you observe 20 or more chinch bugs per 1,000 ft2. Read the insecticide label, and follow the directions carefully.


  • Most lawn grasses need a weekly application of about 1” to 1-1/4” of water (either rain or irrigation) per week. On sandy soils, they require more frequent watering — for example, 1/2″ of water every third day.


  • Apply preemergence herbicides as needed to control winter annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as chickweed and henbit. If you intend to overseed your warm-season lawn (with annual ryegrass, for instance) for green color during winter (or if you need to overseed areas of thin fescue), do not apply a preemergence herbicide.


  • Apply postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Read the herbicide label, and follow the directions carefully.


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