Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Lawn Care: Making your Fescue Lawn the Best It Can Be!

Although metro-Atlanta has had a taste of cool fall weather, it’s not yet time to call it quits on lawn care. Get the properties you manage prepped for winter with some last-minute tasks.

Thatch removal and raking off moldy grass clippings will alleviate disease pressure on the lawn, but better yet, try core aeration, particularly on Fescue turf this time of year. 

Since Fescue is a cool season grass, its most vigorous growth takes place from September/October through April/May. Aerating the lawn should be at the top of the list, since it opens up the soil and promotes a healthier lawn next spring. Water, air and nutrients more easily can make their way down to the roots of the grass plants, resulting in a more vigorous turf overall. The unobtrusive soil cores, scattered over the surface of the lawn, will dissolve during the rains of winter and recycle nutrients back to the soil.

The type and timing of fertilizer to be applied also depends on the type of grass. Crabapple LandscapExperts determine the best formula of fertilizer and the rates for optimizing their clients’ lawns. Proper management of Fescue provides a green turf all year long, in contrast to warm season lawns such as Bermuda or Zoysia that turn tan and go dormant during the winter. Three or four times during the cool months, about October, December, February and April, the LandscapExperts can apply a fertilizer formulated especially for cool season grasses. These products are designed to strengthen the root system and prevent winter injury to your lawn.

The late winter feeding (the end of February to early March), just before the lawn takes off for the Spring, is often an application of slow-release lawn food high in nitrogen. This fertilizer will promote a healthy green color and will feed the lawn for about two months of especially active growth. We generally apply a second application of slow release or organic fertilizer in April, but no later than May 1, to get a robust Fescue through the heat of summer.

Fall is a great time to add Lime to the soil to make it less acidic and closer to neutral, benefitting the lawn and making the nutrients in fertilizer more accessible for plant absorption.

Fall is also a great time to topdress the lawn by raking in some rich organic matter, filled with beneficial microorganisms that supply a natural boost to the grass plants, and mitigate the effects of compacted soils. 

As the wheel of the seasons turns to Fall, there is a lot of thoughtful maintenance that is required to keep the landscape on the properties you manage in top shape. Call the LandscapExperts at Crabapple to lend our expertise. 

Photo Credits: thanks to Royal Horticultural Society,, University of Florida  

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