The growing season for your lawn is almost over. You might think that all that remains is a quick mow to tidy things up until next spring. You would be quite wrong. Once weeds have appeared in the spring, the seeds are set and your battle with them could take years. Late summer and fall are the perfect times to take action to help your lawn compete successfully with weeds in the spring and emerge from the winter looking its best.

The thicker your lawn is, the healthier your lawn is. The healthier your lawn is, the less chance there is that weeds are able to compete successfully with your grass. Problems can occur from mowing your grass too short, if your soil is too compacted, if your soil is low in vital nutrients, if your soil is too acidic, or if your soil is too dry. All of these conditions favor weeds over grass. However, basic, easy and relatively inexpensive lawn management practices can help overcome late summer and fall lawn problems.

MOWING As a rule of thumb follow the one third rule. Depending on the type of grass turf that you have (seek advice if you are unsure), only mow away one third of the length of the leaf at each mowing. For example, the recommended height for tall fescue lawn grass is three inches. Think about mowing your grass when the grass reaches a four inch to four and a half inch height; ensure your mower blades are sharp, the soil surface is firm when you mow, and you mow generally to a height of no less than a two and a half inches.

SOIL AND SEEDS Have your soil tested by your local Southern States dealer at least every three years and apply lime and fertilizer to redress to your lawn grass’ needs; fertilizer should be applied during the early fall/early winter. Aerate your soil during the late summer and irrigate your soil only on an “as needed,” basis to soak the roots. If your soil is loose, and with the correct fertility balance for your type of grass, weeds will have a tough time getting a hold. Sow new grass seed into your lawn in the fall through to the end of October and as per the recommendations for your particular variety of grass; ensure that you follow the instructions. Many varieties and useful advice are available from your local Southern States dealer.

HERBICIDES AND PEST CONTROL Talk to your Southern States dealer about what is appropriate for your lawn and your location. However, generally herbicides that prevent weed seeds from germinating are applied from early to late August. Products that contain pendimethalin, benefin plus trifluralin, dithiopyr, or prodiamine are usually effective. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions and remember that if you are planning on seeding your lawn these products will prevent grass seed from germinating too. For broadleaf weeds appropriate herbicides can usually be effectively applied from October to early November. Pest control via early fall applications to your lawn may be appropriate for certain types of grubs if you have them, see your Southern States dealer for more information and recommendations.

Applying late summer and early fall lawn management practices will usually mean less work in the long run and a better lawn too, a win-win situation. What works best for your lawn and why?

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