Fall Yard Maintenance Tips: How to Care for Warm Season Grass in Autumn

posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in Dealer News

Fall lawn care requires a shift in your regular yard maintenance schedule. In response to the cooler temps and shorter days found in the last bit of the season, the warm weather grasses commonly found in Louisiana are for the most part slowing down and preparing to enter dormancy. The most southern parts of our state are the exception—there, it’ll stay warm enough well through football season, so varieties like St. Augustine will remain partially active year-round.

Even so, how you prepare your lawn for this change significantly impacts your turf in the following year when it wakes up in spring. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your particular grass species to get a better understanding of any seasonal needs it may have. Here are a few important fall lawn care do’s and don’ts to employ that will boost your chances of having a healthy green lawn when the next active season hits.

Do: Add Mowing and Mulching to your Fall Lawn Care Chore List

Even though the growth pattern for warm season grasses is slowing, you’ll still want to mow until your lawn goes dormant. Continue the same yard maintenance rule of never cutting off more than a 1/3 of the blade of grass at once. Keeping your overall grass height shorter than you regularly would is a tactic used by some during this season. 

If you usually do not mulch your clippings, fall is a good time to start, assuming your equipment is suited to the task. Reason being, mowers that are equipped to mulch well can also simultaneously take care of any fallen leaves if you happen to have any. Plus, it feeds your lawn with nutrient rich organic matter free of charge. Mowers in the X700 Series with MulchControl™ and a great many other riding mowers offered by John Deere make easy and efficient work of this type of task.

Don’t: Engage in Yard Maintenance that Agitates the Grass

Because warm season grasses start to slow their growth this time of year, you’ll want to take measures that make the most sense for that growing pattern. Now is not the time to do any vigorous yard work that disturbs turf grass and encourages growth. For this very reason, you’ll want to keep aerating and dethatching off of your fall lawn care to-do list and save those tasks for your early summertime chore list.

Do: Fill in Patchy Areas in the Fall

Summer can be tough on turf even with the best yard maintenance strategy. After heavy use like more ground traffic and frequent mowing as well as variances in the availability of water and higher temperatures, you may be facing some unsightly patchy spots on your lawn. Fall is a great time to fill these patches in with an over seed. Depending on your property size, there are several seeding options that range from manual walk-behind methods to overseeders that attach directly to your John Deere Tractor. If you’re unfamiliar with overseeding, our specialists at your local Sunshine dealer are equipped to walk you through this process and assist you with any implements or tools you might need to tackle the task.

Don’t: Fertilize with Nitrogen

For the same reasons you don’t want to aerate and dethatch or otherwise agitate your lawn as part of your fall lawn care plan, you won’t want to feed your turf with nitrogen this time of year either. It’s counter to the growth pattern warm season grasses experience at this point in the season. Applying nitrogen-based fertilizers will kick-start growth that could render the newly developing turf vulnerable when the temperatures get even cooler during winter.

Do: Feed and Treat your Lawn with Seasonally Appropriate Fertilizers and Treatments

Since nitrogen heavy fertilizers are better suited to active growing seasons, consider a winterizer fertilizer in addition to mulching your lawn clippings to feed your lawn. Winterizers are made specifically to care for lawns this time of year and are higher in potassium instead of nitrogen. To that end, fall is a good time of year to treat and manage for any disease, pests and weeds. Funguses like brown patch and others are also common this time of year. While your turf can recover on its own from some diseases, other diseases can result in dead spots in your lawn that don’t rebound come spring. Consider treating for destructive funguses and pests now to give your turf a head start in spring.

As you get ready to start working through your fall lawn care chore list, stop by your closest Sunshine Dealer for advice, tips and help with selecting the right tools for your work.