Ah sweet, wonderful fall! Fall is the season of sweaters, turkeys, pumpkin spice, and cooler weather. While we're sure you remembered to change up your outdoor décor to pumpkins, wreaths, and fall flowers, we’re here to remind you that you also need to change up your outdoor lawn care routine.
Fall is all about preparing your yard for the cold shift ahead. Grass that is healthy entering the winter months will be better prepared to flourish in the spring. Anytime there is a seasonal weather change, you will need to change up your lawn care schedule as well.
Here are a few tips for caring for your lawn in the fall so you can keep your grass shining all through the winter.
1. Watering your grass in the fall
We all love the cooler temperatures that arrive with the autumn season. However, as cold fronts become more frequent, so do the rain showers that accompany them. Tie in the fact that days are shorter with the fall time change, and we start to appreciate how much the weather shifts between summer and fall. While you may be jumping for joy to get out and finally enjoy your backyard, you also need to consider how this weather change is affecting your yard.
Lower temperatures and shorter days slow grass growth as your lawn is preparing for winter dormancy. In the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, October is the best time to think about switching up your yard watering routine.
In the fall, there is less heat and sunshine, which means less water is evaporating off your grass. So during this cool and wet season, your lawn will ideally need ½ inch of water per week, including rainfall.
Less watering is necessary for the fall, and overwatering makes your yard more prone to fungal diseases. However, that's not to say you should jump to stop all watering right away. Our lawns can be a bit more delicate than we sometimes think, and abruptly stopping all watering can damage your grass. If you're in an area that is receiving at least ½ inch of rain every week, then you can start backing off your watering program.
The idea is to ease your yard into the routine, and then eventually stop watering entirely.
If you’re receiving plenty of fall showers, but aren't sure if it's quite a half-inch each week, then there's a simple Do It Yourself (DIY) project to check your rainfall. Place a small container in your yard (a can or jar will do the trick), and simply measure how much rainwater is filling it.
If you happen to live in a warmer and drier climate, then you'll need to continue watering to ensure that your grass is getting the ½ inch of water that it requires in the fall. You should water early in the morning and twice a week for about 15 minutes per zone.
Right before the fall season is a great time to overseed your yard. If you decided to overseed before fall, then you should continue watering regularly through the season.
2. Mowing for the fall
Your goals for fall mowing should be focused on preparing your grass for the winter. Cutting your grass too short before winter can put a lot of stress on your lawn, and it overexposes your soil to the harsher, cooler temperatures. Alternatively, leaving your grass too tall can lead to matting and disease during winter.
To avoid over or under cutting your grass, set your mower on the second to the highest setting so the grass is about 2.5 to 3 inches tall. Then continue your usual mowing agenda. This length is a happy medium that will lead to a healthy, thriving lawn.
No matter the season, always ensure that your mower blades are well maintained and kept sharp. The humid, wet, and cool autumn weather in the DFW area, make sharp blades even more crucial. Dull blades pull the grass and can compact your soil.
3. Fall aeration
Fall is the prime time to aerate your lawn. Aeration allows your yard to circulate air, water, fertilizer, and beneficial nutrients more efficiently.
Aerating in the fall increases your yard's ability to spread healthy nutrients all throughout the root system before going dormant for the winter.
Basically, aerating boosts your yard’s immune system (so to speak) before the long winter sleep. Treating your lawn to aeration before winter is the best way to strengthen and protect the grass and soil so that it looks lush and green as soon as spring arrives.
4. Fall pre-emergent weed control
During your grass's winter dormant time, weeds can readily germinate without you recognizing it. Although you don't see the weeds yet, you'll save yourself from a daunting weed battle in the spring by taking care of the problem before it starts.
The best solution is to prevent weeds before they fully germinate by having a local lawn care company spread a pre-emergent weed product. We recommend the use of a liquid pre-emergent weed control product as it covers your property more evenly.
These products affect different kinds of weeds at different stages of germination. Still, they effectively kill the weeds before they can completely germinate. More importantly, they eliminate the weeds before they emerge above the surface and sully the look of your grass.
Be sure to read up on our other weed control tips for the fall to keep your lawn looking healthy!
5. Autumn time fertilization
Another important topic to discuss with your lawn care company is your fertilizer schedule. It is highly recommended that you treat your lawn to a good round of fertilizing in the fall.
Provide your yard with the food and nutrients it needs to thrive before it goes into winter dormancy.
This is especially important if you live somewhere where it snows consistently. You may also want to consider a deep root fertilization treatment before winter. Trees in Texas aren't the easiest to fertilize, and this deep root treatment gets your trees healthy and hardy before the frost and freezes of winter arrive.
6. Five common fall weeds in the DFW area
Although some people welcome the arrival of the pleasant-looking fall wild aster, you should also be aware of the more troublesome aspects of aster. Wild aster is a broadleaf weed with small, colorful flowers that, when left unchecked, can have far-reaching consequences. Aster is a hardy weed that can easily and quickly spread around your property. This weed can be a bully that will push grass and other plants out of its path so it can spread.
To avoid wild aster taking over your yard, hand pulling the weed works in isolated circumstances. However, once the weed has spread out of control, you will need a post-emergent weed product to eliminate them entirely. Your most effective option to stop these weeds is to use a pre-emergent weed product to prevent them from ever germinating.
Dandelions are a notorious taproot perennial weed with larger leaves and yellow blooms. These weeds are fairly well-known to most people because of their charming appearance, because they grow all across America, and because they are the weed that just won’t stop! Dandelions are thick, sturdy, and return again and again.
If you want to keep dandelions away, then you must take them seriously because they often re-grow where they have previously germinated. If you already have dandelions, then talk to a lawn care company about a post-emergent weed product to remove them from your property. After they've been removed, you will need to keep up on pre-emergent weed treatments to avoid their return.
Henbit is a troublesome autumn annual broadleaf weed that can turn into a big springtime problem. This weed has leaves that circulate out like clovers around the stem and are topped with a pinkish, purplish bloom. Henbits germinate in the fall, grow in the winter, and spread in the spring, so autumn is the time to take control by using a pre-emergent weed product. If Henbit is already a problem in your yard, then post-emergent weed products are also useful.
Bluegrass (Poa Annua)
Bluegrass is a grassy weed that no one wants to see hanging around. This problematic winter annual weed leads to unsightly seedheads sprouting up. These weeds can show up on golf courses, in turfgrass, or even in small cracks or crevices. Fall is the time to protect your yard from a Bluegrass invasion.
This weed begins to germinate in the autumn, grows during the winter, and takes over during the spring. Grassy weeds are very difficult to treat and remove once they've spread. Treat your property with a pre-emergent weed product in the fall to keep Bluegrass away for the spring.
Rescuegrass is a winter annual grassy weed that usually looks like a clump of a “branching-type” grass. Some blades of this grassy weed may even appear hairy. As with Bluegrass, Rescuegrass is tough to get rid of once it has taken over. Rescue yourself from rescuegrass by treating your yard with fall pre-emergent weed control.
7. Beware of brown patch
Another autumn time danger for your lawn in DFW is brown patch fungal disease. If you begin to notice circular areas of yellow or brown grass in your yard, don’t ignore it! Take a closer look at one of the yellow or brown patches, and check a single blade of grass. Pull the blade out of one of the affected areas. If the blade pulls very easily, then that's your first sign that you may have this fungal disease.
Next, check the base of the blade. If the bottom of the blade appears brown (or looks like the blade of grass dying), then it is definitely time to call out your local lawn care company for a check.
Brown patch fungal disease can leave large, unsightly spots of yellow or brown grass all throughout your yard for months. This disease is also a repeat offender and likes to reappear where it has previously been.
The good news is that as long as you pay attention and notice the brown patch, it can be stopped.
While you can’t prevent the brown patch fungus, a lawn care company will be able to treat the affected areas in your yard with fungicides. When these products are applied to the problem areas, they kill the active fungus preventing it from spreading further.
It is possible, however, that the fungus could pop up in another spot of your yard at another time, so your watch must be vigilant. Unfortunately, any damage or scarring that brown patch causes to your yard before winter can not be repaired until the green of spring arrives.
Always keep an eye out for brown patch and be sure to call a lawn care company if you see any in your yard so they can stop it from spreading and scarring more of your yard.
Need help with your autumn lawn care?
Would you rather spend your autumn watching football or hanging out by your fire pit than trying to manage your yard’s fall seasonal needs? Call Gecko Green lawn care specialists, and we’ll take over all the work so you can just focus on enjoying your yard all season long. Our specialists are some of the best in the industry, and we guarantee our services. Call today for a free quote!
“Happy fall, y'all! Go enjoy autumn while Gecko Green keeps your yard looking green and lush all season long."
Chief Security Officer