As reluctant as we are to admit it, the mercury is starting to drop to new lows and the morning air is feeling a tad bit chillier here in Allentown. OK, maybe we've just gone from scorching hot to a comfortable hot, but the temperature is dropping nonetheless. Soon, the trees will turn into vibrant autumn colors, and before we know it, the branches will be bare, and leaves will be covering the ground. That means tending to our garden is just about over for another year, right? Soon, but not quite. Your lawn care calendar doesn't end after summer— here are some things to add to your checklist before winter arrives:
FALL LAWN AERATION AND OVERSEEDING
Like the rest of the plants in your garden, your lawn is a giant organism that needs oxygen to breathe. Over time, the soil becomes compacted by traffic, precipitation, and thatch—especially with improper watering and mowing. Aerating your landscape with a rake or aeration tool helps to break up compaction and remove soil plugs, allowing oxygen to reach the roots much easier. While many gardeners choose to include aeration with their spring cleaning checklist, fall is as good of a time if you haven't done it yet this year. Once your lawn can finally breathe again, pamper some of its damaged or patchy areas with a good compost mixture and scatter some fresh seed. If you're not sure what to overseed with, we carry a variety of Scotts® grass seed products that are suitable for a wide range of different landscape conditions.
FALL LAWN PH RESTORATION
Fall is also a great time to restore the soil pH of your landscape, ensuring your grass is growing in preferable conditions. The ideal pH varies between different grass varieties. As a rule of thumb, warm-season grasses can tolerate a lower, or more acidic pH, while cool-season types can tolerate a slightly higher, more alkaline pH. Keeping within these ranges is vital for nutrient absorption. Even if there are plenty of nutrients available, they won't be nourishing much without the right pH!
You might be wondering what would affect your land's pH in the first place? Soil pH changes naturally over time. For instance, we're no strangers to rain here in Pennsylvania. Compared to the national average, we receive above-average rainfall. That rainwater often washes away the calcium in our soils, lowering the pH and making our soils more acidic in the process. That's why lime, an alkaline soil amendment, is most commonly used to restore soil pH balance here in Lehigh Valley.
Is your grass struggling and not looking it's typical, luscious self, or is it suddenly overcome with moss? It might be time to restore soil pH. If you're not sure, use a soil testing kit to determine just what your soil needs. If your soil tests indicate low pH levels, pick up a bag of granular or pellet lime from our garden center to correct the issue.
FALL GRASS FERTILIZER
Did you know that fertilizing in autumn is just as important as doing so in the spring? We're always quick to give the garden that extra boost before the growing season begins—summertime is showtime, after all. But truthfully, it's later in the year is when your lawn really needs those extra nutrients. While your grass may be hibernating under a blanket of snow all winter long, it still requires energy and moisture to keep itself alive! Like bears gathering berries, your garden spends the months before winter collecting and storing as many nutrients as it can.
Timing is critical when it comes to fall fertilization. You don't want to add it too early while the grass is still growing, or else the nutrients will get all used up for even more growth rather than storage. Once your lawn has stopped actively growing, it's ready for fertilizer.
The easiest way to prevent weeds in your garden is to stay consistent with your weed control efforts, and autumn is no exception! First and foremost, the best defence against weeds is maintaining a healthy lawn. If you're diligent with the other lawn care tasks we've discussed, weeds should already find it difficult to infiltrate your garden. If you’re having problems with stubborn weeds like crabgrass, or if you want to apply extra precautions, we carry a variety of Scotts® weed control products at our garden center.
While seeding and weeding might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about yard maintenance at this time of year, breaking out the rake certainly is! Even a child's second-favorite thing about the season (after Halloween candy, of course) is jumping into a massive pile of raked-up leaves. For all of us non-children, though, raking and bagging leaves is a tiresome task—and one that we tend not to look forward to.
It might be tempting to ignore fallen leaves, knowing that they'll soon be covered in a blanket of snow. But that colorful layer of reds, oranges, and yellows will quickly turn into a soggy, disease-inviting mat. Luckily, we have an easier solution for you than back-breaking raking! Instead of bagging up the leaves, simply mow over them with your lawnmower, turning them into a layer of organic mulch, instead! This way, you insulate your lawn for winter while also encouraging adequate airflow. Be careful not to leave too much mulch though, anything more than an inch or so might still end up depriving the soil of oxygen.
While proper fall lawn care certainly involves a little more than raking up the leaves, it's really not more demanding than any other season. Maintain your regular yard maintenance up until the first frost, with a toss of seed and an application of fertilizer here and there, and you're golden (or green, we should say!). Stop by Lehigh Valley Garden Center for all your lawn care product needs!