Don’t just leave the lawn


The Prince George Citizen - - AT HOME -

awns make up a big part of the land­scape, so its im­por­tant to con­tinue to look af­ter them into the fall, to en­sure that they are strong and healthy go­ing into win­ter and will look great next spring.

Lawns have dif­fer­ent fer­til­izer re­quire­ments in the fall than they do in the spring/sum­mer. Dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months, lawns are fer­til­ized to en­cour­age green, healthy blades of grass. We use lawn fer­til­iz­ers that have a high per­cent­age of ni­tro­gen (first of the three num­bers listed on the fer­til­izer la­bel) be­cause ni­tro­gen en­cour­ages green leafy growth. The last ap­pli­ca­tion of these fer­til­iz­ers should have been mid-Au­gust.

In the fall the top growth of the grass slows down and stops as it stores nu­tri­ents for the win­ter months. As long as the grass is green it is stor­ing nu­tri­ents. Ap­ply­ing a fall fer­til­izer in the fall will help strengthen the lawn for the win­ter. A fer­til­izer that is high in potas­sium (third num­ber of the three listed on the la­bel) such as 6-3-12 works well, as potas­sium builds up and strength­ens the grass plant root sys­tem mak­ing it more tol­er­ant to cold and stress. Ap­ply fall fer­til­izer on the lawn in early fall.

Rake fallen leaves from de­cidu- ous trees and shrubs off the lawn. Don’t al­low them to pile up on the grass as this will block the sun­light and oxy­gen, as well as cre­ate a moist, heavy bar­rier and make it eas­ier for dis­ease. Piles of fallen leaves left on the lawn over the win­ter months will smother new grass in the spring. Dis­ease and pest-free fallen leaves can be used as ex­tra mulch on flowerbeds or be placed in the com­post. If you have a mulching lawn­mower, you can run the lawn­mower over the leaves on the lawn to break them down into smaller pieces, and this can be left on the lawn as mulch that will help in­su­late the lawn. Don’t leave more than three to four cen­time­tres of mulched leaves on the lawn, or you will end up smoth­er­ing the grass.

If your lawn needs lime, fall is a good time of year to do it. Be­fore ap­ply­ing lime, do a sim­ple pH test first. The pH should be be­tween 6.5 and 7. If you had moss in the lawn or if the lawn was not grow­ing well, even af­ter it was fer­til­ized it could mean that it needs lime.

You may no­tice that as tem­per­a­tures cool down you don’t need to mow the lawn as of­ten as you did over the sum­mer months. It is still im­por­tant to keep up on the mow­ing, but to help stim­u­late growth on the roots of the grass raise the blade of the lawn­mower one notch. Grass length should be five to seven cen­time­tres. Longer grass will pro­vide ex­tra pro­tec­tion, es­pe­cially over the win­ter months when it traps the snow be­tween its blades, cre­at­ing a warm blan­ket. You don’t want to keep it too high as this will make it more at­trac­tive to voles and mice which can do a lot of dam­age to the lawn and land­scape over the win­ter months.

If you had patchy areas in the lawn, now is a good time to top­dress and re-seed the lawn. Af­ter all the leaves have been raked, add a thin layer of good qual­ity soil to the lawn, and then re­seed with a match­ing grass seed. Mois­ten the soil and con­tinue to keep it moist un­til ger­mi­na­tion.

This is a good time of year to re­move weeds, ei­ther man­u­ally or chem­i­cally. Weeds that may have been dor­mant dur­ing the sum­mer heat have be­come ac­tive again and this is a great time to con­trol them be­fore win­ter sets in, so that next spring you will be left with a healthy, weed-free lawn.


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