For most homeowners, a good looking lawn is a source of pride. One must, of course, keep up appearances in the neighbourhood, and for many gardeners it starts with the lawn. It was a hot August and September, and if your lawn has come through it looking a little tired, October is an excellent time to do some renovation work.
If it’s been a few years since the lawn has been aerated, fall in an ideal time to do it. Aerating helps to open up the soil, it allows roots to penetrate deeper, and water to percolate better into the soil.
Aerating in the fall also encourages the lawn to thicken up on its own, a process called “tillaring”. We only aerate the lawn in front of the garden centre in fall for this very reason.
After aerating the next best thing to do for the lawn is to top dress. Use a half and half mixture of sand and peat soil, and spread it over the entire lawn no more than an inch thick. You can rent a machine to do this task for you. Sweep the mixture into the lawn with a fan rake or a corn broom to help it settle down to the roots. If your neighbours question you, tell them you read it here.
The sand/peat mix will help the soil base under the lawn by improving both water retention in sandy soils, or drainage in compacted soils. Top dressing is especially effective when combined with aerating. I guarantee that your lawn will look better after this double treatment, and I can also guarantee that you’ll sleep well if you do it yourself; it is a workout.
Now that the hot weather has passed for the year weeds have started to grow again in lawns. Weed growth slows dramatically when temperatures are over 30 deg. C. If you must use a herbicide now you’ll have better success than, say, a month ago.
Bare patches in the lawn can be a by-product of many things, but no matter what the cause, fall provides a perfect window for reseeding these areas. Use about an inch of topsoil, and throw the seed directly onto the area. An application of 14-28-8 fertilizer at the same time will help the root growth. Run a roller over the area, or pat it down with your hand to ensure good seed/soil contact, and keep the soil moist.
The cooler air temperatures mean excellent germination rates right now, and there should be green where there once was brown in a little over a week. It’s also a great time to overseed existing lawns, or to seed entire new lawns.
A fall fertilizer can be applied anytime now through October. The higher potash is a real benefit to turf; it helps to increase winter hardiness, and boosts disease resistance too.
Don’t change the cutting height on the mower as we head towards giving the lawn its last cut. It should be kept the same as during the summer. We don’t have many issues with lawn diseases over winter in our climate, so concerns over fungal or blight diseases are almost non-existent.
No matter how much abuse your lawn may take over the summer, fall is our chance to make it all right again.

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