By Eric Koehlmoos, U of M Extension
Now that summer is drawing to a close, we often forget about keeping our lawns healthy. In reality, your lawn needs help during this time of year just as much as it did back in the heat of June and July. August and September become critical times in managing your lawn so it is healthy for the ensuing fall and winter months. Following some of these tips will help keep your lawn growing all through the late summer and set yourself up for a great looking lawn next spring.
Seeding: This summer Central Minnesota has received ample amounts of rainfall, so in all likelihood, there aren’t many dead spots in your yard. However, if there are dead or thin patches, this time of year is perfect for overseeding into the existing lawn. To overseed, gently work up the soil and then sow in your grass seed. It becomes crucial that the soil is moist, but not oversaturated, when seeds are trying to germinate and emerge. When watering this new growth, water deeply and infrequently after emergence has occurred.
Watering: This time of year isn’t as big of an issue as it was earlier in the summer. Generally, the weather in late August and September feature timely rains, cooler temperatures, and shorter day lengths, which decrease the amount of extra water to be applied. Nonetheless, the early fall is an important time to make sure that your lawn has enough water for its needs. If needing to apply excess water, do so deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth.
Weed Control: It may not seem like it, but late summer and early fall is actually a great time to control some perennial weed issues. Dandelions and creeping charlie are both winter perennials that can come and wreak havoc in the early spring. September is the best time to spray these weeds with a variety of different broadleaf herbicides. As always, make sure to follow labels when applying any herbicides. Spraying now can cause these pesky weeds to not return in the spring.
Fertilizing: This time is also an excellent one to apply fertilizer to your lawn. Generally, most lawns need some more nutrients, especially nitrogen, to successfully grow through the fall. Applying one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn is a good way to keep your lawn green. When looking for adding additional nutrients, a soil test is an effective way to see what your soil needs for fall fertilization.
Aeration: Oxygen is critical to healthy root growth. Some lawns may run into compaction issues, especially in high-traffic areas. Utilizing an aerifier is one way to increase the oxygen present for the lawn’s roots and soil microbes. Soil aerifiers are available at most rental facilities, and be sure to utilize a core aerifier. A core aerifier will bring the soil cores up to the surface for decomposing, leaving holes present for oxygen to enter. After a couple of passes with an aerifier, the plant roots should have more oxygen to grow and develop.
If you are wanting more information about late summer lawn care, visit http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2009/09/lawn-care-checklist-late-summer-early.html.