The fall season is considered an important transition period of grass growth and development. Lawn care practices and management of your warm- and cool-season grasses during these months matter if you’re looking to have a lush, green lawn in the upcoming spring. If you’re looking to establish a new lawn this fall then you’re in the right spot. These tips help homeowners get the best out of their new lawn.
Tips for Cool-Season Grasses
- Test your soil to determine nutrient levels and pH. Most lawn care professionals recommend a soil test at least once every three years to determine if nutrients other than nitrogen are needed
- What cool-season grass should you use? Check out our grass types guide that we wrote specifically for Richmond, VA.
- For establishing a new lawn (fall is the best time to do so), tilling the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches is recommended prior to seeding.
- After the soil is tilled, the opportunity is there to put that soil test to good use. Work and incorporate any recommended lime or starter fertilizer that will aid grass establishment.
- After sowing the seed, irrigate lightly and frequently until the seed has germinated and the initial establishment of the root system is complete. Over watering is bad because this could either wash away or drown the seed.
- Gradually cut back the amount of water applied as the root system fully establishes itself to foster a deep root system.
- Mow the grass regularly at the recommended height and follow the ⅓ mowing rule (never removing more than a third of the grass blade at a time). For example, most fescue is supposed to be mowed at two inches so wait until the grass has reached three inches and then give it a good cut.
- Remember that the best weed control is a healthy lawn. So weed control needs vary depending on the time that you’re establishing your lawn. Most major weed problems in the winter consist of annual bluegrass and winter annual winter broadleaf weeds. These can largely be avoided by fostering healthy growth during the early stages of your new lawn.
- The best times to make supplemental nitrogen applications are during September, October, and November. Remember the acronym “SON” if you need help keeping that information handy.
- Core aeration and vertical mowing are two specialized lawn care tips that are best done during periods of active growth. Keep that in mind while cultivating your new lawn in the future.
Tips for Warm-Season Grasses
- Most of the tips above highlighting proper cool-season turf establishment apply to warm-season grasses as well. Minus a few differences.
- Fall is too late to cultivate your lawn so aeration and vertical mowing should best be put off until spring when the grass begins its next active growing season.
- Overseeding is a unique aspect of warm-season grass compared to cool-season grass. Many homeowners will overseed with a perennial or annual ryegrass over the winter to provide color.
- Annual ryegrass is significantly cheaper, whereas perennial ryegrass provides a higher quality turf.
That’s it for our new lawn establishment tips. Remember that these are just tips and that our complete guide is coming soon!
Have questions about lawn care? Visit our Richmond lawn care page or share your thoughts in the comments below.