In one way or another, each season is important in the pursuit of a perfect lawn. But fall is an especially important time. Because winter is coming, and turfgrass growth will soon begin to slow down – specifically in the Northern Virginia area – it is a crucial time for preparation. So whether you’re considering lawn service in Vienna or mowing your lawn in Chantilly, here are four important services you should consider for your lawn this fall: leaf removal, core aeration, overseeding, and fertilization.
1. Leaf Removal
Your kids may love jumping around in the piles of leaves in your yard, but in general, they are not good for your lawn. When leaves pile up, they block sunlight from reaching your grass, and therefore inhibit the process of photosynthesis. This, in turn, limits the amount of energy and nutrients the plants can create. Your grass needs to breathe. We suggest doing leaf removal at least twice in the fall; even better, do it every 7-10 days. You can use a couple different tools for this, the cheapest being the good old fashioned rake (get an extra wide rake with thing and extended prongs). Other options include a leaf blower and a yard vacuum. The benefit of hiring a lawn care company is that they have top of the line equipment for this so you won’t need to spend a fortune on a yard vacuum (or break your back using a rake). Check out more specific tips in this article we wrote about leaf removal.
2. Core Aeration
Anyone with kids or animals can understand that lawns become compacted over time. If your soil is compacted, it is difficult for water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil. This is where core aeration comes in. Core aeration is the process of pulling up little dirt plugs out of your lawn to relieve this pressure. aeration improves fertilizer uptake reduces water runoff, strengthens roots, reduces compaction, enhances heat and drought tolerance, improves resiliency, and can take a destroyed lawn and renovate it quickly. We recommend you do core aeration once per year and always in the fall. If your home is new, it’s likely you need it done. Make sure you do it with an aerator (which all good lawn care companies will have), not spikes, which will not pull the plugs out, and often makes your lawn more compacted. Right after core aeration, immediately go into overseeding.
You’ll likely see the most prominent and dramatic results with overseeding. Overseeding, also called reseeding, is the process of adding more grass plants for your existing lawn. Over time, mature plant’s production rates will drop. Therefore, to keep a lawn young and lush, it’s necessary to incorporate crops of young grass plants. Overseeding benefits all types of grass, but it will benefit cold season grasses in Northern Virginia, the most. Fall is the best time of the year to do this (immediately after core aeration, since your lawn will be opened up). When nights are 50-60 degrees, right before leaves start falling, is a perfect time. You’re basically giving your lawn a head start by overseeding in the fall instead of the spring. When you’re ready to overseed, cut your grass a little shorter (to a height of 2 inches or shorter). Think about applying soil amendments such as fertilizer. Do this every year until your lawn is thick and awesome.
Fertilization is the process of feeding your lawn the proper nutrients it needs to be healthy and green. It’s what people think of, for the most part, when they think of lawn care that is anything outside of standard mowing. Experts say you should fertilize your lawn four times per year (once each season), but make sure that at the very least, you should do it once per year. The fall is a great time to do so because your lawn is in ideal condition for feeding; the temperatures are right, the amount of sunlight is prime, and it’s good preparation for a season of slower growth. Test your soil’s PH level and choose a fertilizer that balances out either the acidity of alkalinity of your lawn. You can then choose either liquid or granular fertilizer (we recommend granular because you won’t have to apply it as often.) Then, choose a fast-release of slow-release product (we prefer slow for the same reason). Organic fertilizer is better for your lawn, but chemical will kill those pesky weeds. Your choice. Buy the proper equipment. A drop spreader is great for smaller lawns, but a rotary spreader is better for big lawns. If you hire a lawn care company you won’t need to worry about this since they’ll own top of the line equipment. Most importantly, use care with fertilizer, and make sure to clean up properly after you’re done.
For more information about lawn care near you, visit our Virginia lawn care page!