Fall gives eco-conscious you the perfect window of opportunity to prepare your yard for winter. With the onset of crisp days and cool nights, working outdoors is suddenly more attractive than it was mere weeks ago. Follow this easy fall checklist for eco-friendly yard and lawn care to improve your lawn organically.
1. Slow Your Mow
Cooler temps translate to slower turf growth, but that’s no reason to stop mowing. Continuing to mow, albeit at a slower pace, will do your lawn a lot of good in colder months. Mow until the first frost, at which point the grass will go dormant, and you can put away the mower until spring.
Maintain the recommended mowing height through fall. Grass that’s too short can suffer damage in the winter by snow and frost. Grass that’s too long will encourage mold and fungus growth in the winter.
2. Rake Your Leaves
It can be a challenge to keep up with falling leaves, but your yard will thank you for not leaving a soggy carpet on your lawn all winter. Leaf litter damages the lawn by blocking light and trapping moisture, then taking out patches of grass with them as they decay. They can also harbor insects and diseases. You can prevent problems without endless rounds of raking.
Unless you have oak trees, whose leaves negatively affect soil pH, you can run your mower over the felled leaves to mulch them. The mulched leaves and grass clippings on the lawn surface act as a slow-release fertilizer over the winter as they break down.
If you have many trees and excessive leaves, use a leaf blower to gather the leaves into a pile, then use them to create compost. Alternatively, you can shred the leaves and bag them with a mower, and use the shredded leaves as flowerbed mulch.
3. Let It Breathe
Soil gets compacted over time, and benefits from core aeration performed every year or so. Core aeration extracts little plugs of soil, opening up voids in the lawn for nutrients, oxygen, and water. This helps to support a healthy ecosystem beneath the surface, improving the health of your lawn. For the best results, have core aeration done after mowing.
4. Sow Some Seeds
There’s little point in planting grass during the summer when conditions are at their worst. But autumn is just right for overseeding. Look before you leap and make sure you use the right grass seed for your yard. Apply seed in areas that look thin or bare and then let the season work its magic.
5. Nourish the Soil
The grass on your lawn tells you the story of what is going on beneath the surface. Don’t think of fertilization as feeding the lawn, but rather building a foundation of healthy soil. Leaving grass clippings and mulched leaves to break down on the lawn is one way of adding nutrients to the soil. A healthy dose of organic fertilizer in the fall can also help. Unlike chemical fertilizers which run off and damage waterways, organic fertilizers can repair summer’s damage and encourage healthy winter root growth.
If you follow this fall checklist for yard and lawn care, you can rest easy over winter knowing your lawn will make a glorious comeback next spring.
Rachael Elizabeth is a gardening guru and writer. She takes pride tending to her small space garden that is constantly flourishing with fresh herbs and florals.