Written by Miles Graves, Horticulturalist
As Autumn rolls around, many of us are enjoying the reduced heat and spending more time outside. While turf enjoys the warm weather in the Summer, it begins to prepare for dormancy in the Fall. Your lawn may remain green for the coming months, but it reacts to the shorter days and less sun exposure by storing nutrients and energy. This is an important process that is vital to ensure that you have a healthy turf next Spring. There are things you can do now to strengthen your turf and aid it in a smooth transition as the season changes.
By following these three steps you will prepare your lawn up for a peaceful slumber during the cold winter months and you can rest easy knowing you’ll have a beautiful green lawn this Spring.
Step 1: The first is proper turf fertilization. While turf growth slows in Fall, it is still searching for nutrients to ready itself for the cold months ahead. The main nutrient it needs is potassium, which strengthens roots and assist the turf in surviving the cold. You will also want to avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizer as this will cause the turf to expel energy in attempts to grow. Energy that would be much more beneficial if stored for the winter.
Step 2: The second key to help your lawn prepare for dormancy is to not weaken it through herbicide applications. Fight the urge to aggressively treat what remains of the summer annual weeds, because at this stage as they are difficult to kill and will die soon anyway. By aggressively applying “weed killers” you can weaken your lawn, causing it to struggle during the winter and delay emergence in the spring. Sacrifice a little bit now, to ensure you will have a much stronger and healthier lawn next spring.
Step 3: The third way to strengthen your turf as it prepares for dormancy is through proper water management. With decreased temperatures and slower growth, the turf requires less water so it is important not to overwater your turf. As temperatures fall, decrease watering frequency to avoid fungus development.