From Dennis Patton:
What a great fall it has been, the temperatures have been very mild and pleasant. The only downside has been the abnormally dry weather.
Now is the time to prepare the lawn for the long winter months. Important practices are fertilization, weed control, leaf removal and proper mowing.
Mid-November is an excellent time to apply a high source of nitrogen fertilizer to bluegrass and tall fescue lawns. This application is quickly converted to stored food and energy for next spring’s growth. Come spring the grass will green up early without unnecessary top growth. Look for fertilizers often called winterizers that contain a mix of nutrients similar to 27-3-3 or 30-0-0.
Many weeds such as henbit, chickweed and dandelion sprout in the cool days of fall. These small establishing weeds are very easy to control with most broadleaf herbicides.
Spraying in the cool fall weather results in less damage to other landscape plants as the chemicals tend to drift on warm, windy spring days. We normally think to treat these weed problems when flowering in the spring. Control is less effective, so treat now and relax come spring.
Most of the leaves have dropped from the trees. A few are still clinging to branches. A thick layer of leaves covering the grass will weaken or kill the lawn over the winter months. Raking and removing leaves is a task dreaded by most, but a fact of life for a healthy lawn. Either rake the fallen leaves or collect in the bagging attachment. A few leaves will not hurt the lawn so do not obsess as more will collect over the winter.
Lastly, proper mowing is important for a nice lawn. The lawn should remain at the same height as it currently is being mowed. Do not lower the blade to pick up debris as this may increase winter injury of the turf. The proper height for bluegrass and tall fescue is somewhere between 2 and 3 inches.
A tip for spring, do not scalp the turf. Many drop the mower blade in the early spring to remove dead grass blades. This opens the lawn up for sunlight penetration. What happens is more weed seed germinates. In the spring drop one notch and let nature do the rest.
So take advantage of the last pleasant days of autumn. Your lawn will respond come spring and make the extra work worth the effort.