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Fall Lawn Care

By Martha Kirk, Colorado Master Gardener℠

  • Mowing: Mow the lawn at the same height (2 ½” to 3”) all year; no need to mow shorter in the fall. Remove just 1/3 of the turf height each mowing.
  • Core cultivation: Aerate the lawn early September to mid-October. Water the lawn 2-3 days in advance to soften the ground and achieve deeper plugs. Fertilizer application and overseeding can be done at this time.
  • Fertilizing: The most important nutrient for lawns is nitrogen. If fertilization is done only once per year, the best time is the fall (October-November) when the grass is still green. Always water well after applying fertilizer.
  • Overseeding: Fall is a good time to overseed if the lawn has patchy spots. The soil is warm so germination will happen quickly. Prep the area by creating multiple holes in the turf. This can be done manually with a garden fork or with a core cultivator. With the area prepped, sprinkle a quality grass seed, rake it lightly, and keep it watered.
  • Watering: Continue watering the lawn into October. This will help it recover from any injury and deter turf mites. Before shutting down the irrigation system for the season, deep water the lawn. This allows the lawn to enter the dormant season with less stress.
  • Winter and Spring Watering: When there has been little or no precipitation, water the lawn in the winter and early spring, especially south and west exposures or exposed slopes. Water every four to six weeks and later in the day when the ground has time to warm up. This can help prevent turf mite injury.
  • Weeds: Fall is the best time to apply herbicide to perennial weeds in the lawn. For just a few weeds, spot spraying is the recommended approach. September to November is ideal. Herbicides are more readily absorbed by weeds this time of year. Always read and follow the label.
  • Tools: Clean and sharpen mower blades so equipment will be ready to go in the spring!

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