Your Best Spring Lawn Starts with Fall Lawn Renovation
Maintaining a thick green lawn all summer can be a real challenge. Lack of irrigation, too much or too little sun, poor soil composition, and failure to fertilize can result in thin grass, straw-like dead patches, and even multiple bare spots by the time fall arrives. Many lawns have taken a hit this year as Kansas City was treated to one of the hottest Julys on record and unusually low rainfall rates. All of that came on the heels of an unusually wet spring that flooded several area lawns, causing grass and soil erosion.
The good news is there is still time to give your lawn a head start and a fighting chance of recovery over the next couple of months before the first freeze hits. In fact, fall is the best time of year to address problem areas. A fall lawn renovation process including aeration, de-thatching, and over-seeding will kick start your lawn’s regeneration process – so, when the snow melts away next spring, your healthy lawn will be a season ahead of all your neighbors’ lawns!
Step #1: Aeration
The first step to revitalizing a beat-down lawn is to make sure it has a healthy base. The intense heat of summer, as well as heavy foot traffic, hardens and compacts your yard’s soil, making it impossible for water to properly absorb into the ground and reach the root system of your grass. Beyond depriving your grass of needed water, hardened soil may also cause rainwater run-off, which can generate drainage issues in your yard and even within your foundation and basement.
What’s more, hardened soil conditions create difficulty for lawn sustainability as your grass will struggle – and possibly fail – to develop robust root systems. During the fall, grass is preparing for dormancy the same way trees and shrubs do. Fuller root systems allow grass to store-up extra nutrients that help it survive the winter.
Aeration is an excellent way to help loosen compacted soil. An aerator will remove hundreds of finger-sized plugs from the ground, leaving behind small holes that allow oxygen, water, and nutrients to penetrate the ground and reach your grass’ roots more effectively. A freshly aerated lawn is also the perfect time to address any chemical imbalances in the soil and also to fertilize your lawn.
Step #2: Dethatching
Along with aeration, it’s important to remove excess thatch, which is the layer of organic material that accumulates over time between your living grass and the soil. A little thatch is ok, but if it exceeds more than ½” it can begin to damage your lawn. Along with slowing down water absorption, excessive thatch can be a fertile breeding ground for lawn disease and pests. Lawns naturally accumulate thatch, but overwatering, over-fertilizing, and unbalanced pH levels in soil can expedite lawn damage associated with thatch.
Aeration does assist with thatch removal, but if there is still too much thatch after aeration, lawn care pros use specially-made dethatching tools. The motorized versions are machines that look similar to lawnmowers; there are also specially designed rakes that safely remove the thatch but they do require a bit more muscle and effort. It’s best to dethatch your lawn in the fall just as your grass is entering its period of dormancy. During the spring, new grass begins to grow – grass that is very fragile and easily damaged.
Step #3: Overseeding
Once your lawn has been aerated and dethatched, chances are that it looks a bit patchy or thin. This is the best time to generously seed your entire yard paying special attention to any bare spots in your lawn. The small holes left behind from the aerator provide the perfect environment for seeds to germinate with great seed-to-soil contact. What’s more, the soil is still relatively warm from the summer – but the cooler ambient air temperature of fall puts less stress on the young grass, resulting in ideal germination conditions.
It’s essential to use premium quality seed when overseeding. Inferior seed mixes tend to include a variety of lesser-quality grasses which do tend to germinate and grow quickly – but lack the strength to hold up under tough weather conditions. This is why the Turf Pros at Heinen team only use hearty grass varieties that thrive in the Kansas City climate.
Fall is the ideal time for lawn renovation as aerating, dethatching, and overseeding in the spring can leave your lawn at risk of excessive weed growth (since spring is the time of year when weed seeds are spreading and in search of convenient places to grow). And, by renovating your lawn in the fall, by spring your grass will already be growing in thick and healthy putting your lawn at less risk of an annoying weed infestation.
Once all fall lawn renovation steps are complete, you’ll need to maintain a steady watering schedule to continue strengthening and maintaining your lawn as it becomes re-established. Newly planted grass seed needs to be kept moist (but not drenched) at all times. If you have an automated sprinkler system, it’s important to adjust your watering schedule to accommodate the new grass – which generally means more frequent light waterings versus periodic heavy waterings. Germinating seeds need to stay wet, but too heavy of a watering can wash new seed away.
Ready to get started? If fall lawn renovation sounds like a bit much for your own schedule, don’t worry, Heinen is here to help! And, it’s true, when it comes to aerating and dethatching, it’s often best to call in the professionals! Over-aerating or over-de-thatching your lawn can do severe damage to the grass’ root system, as well as open the door to major pest or weed infestations. These simple mistakes can easily cost big money – and a fair amount of extra work in the future. The Turf Pros at Heinen are experts at ensuring your lawn gets the right fall renovation treatment. And, if you have an underground sprinkler system, the Heinen irrigation team can also inspect your system before winter, mark all sprinkler heads around your property with flags so no damage is done to your irrigation system during aeration and de-thatching, and they can also adjust your watering schedule to accommodate your newly seeded lawn!
Prepare your lawn this fall for spring success! Call Debbie at Heinen at (913) 432-5011 to schedule your Fall Lawn Renovation today!