FALL

 
 
 United States National Arburetum photo

United States National Arburetum photo

the Fall visit is the most important one of the year

Cooler fall weather is the time when grass plants grow more roots, and store up carbohydrate reserves for overwintering, and regrowth in spring. If summer wasn't kind to your lawn it is also the time where plants repair moderately damaged areas.

MOWING – Keep the mower high (3½ “) until mid-October. Short mowing shortens roots which is never good. Clip the grass at 2½” the last time in fall and the first time in spring and then set the mower to 3½” again. Short mowing shortens roots and it takes the grass 60 days to grow back deep roots after a half dozen short mowings. Lawns cut at 2” tall or less will likely have winter injury if snow cover is limited. Tell your mowing crew.

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WATERING – Adequate water through October first is important, as this is the time of year that plants grow extra roots to store food for the winter. About an inch per week is probably right as we get into cool nights and days in the 70's. Continue watering new nursery stock and sensitive trees such as birches and spruces every two weeks while the ground is thawed and days are warm.

RAKING - Be sure to remove tree leaves promptly as they fall. Wet matted leaves give off toxins which damage the grass. Scattered leaves can be mulched if they are cut to dime size or smaller. Mulching heavy leaves means re-mowing even with a very good mulcher and usually doesn't result in a pretty lawn. We recommend removing them.

 Vole damage

Vole damage

SPRING POWER RAKING - Most lawns don't need power raking. If the lawn is rough in spring due to winter injury, do not power rake as it will further weaken damaged grass. Hand raking or light power brooming will clean up debris without doing as much damage to the plants. With adequate water, the lawn will green up in spring without power raking to remove last years brown grass. Just clip at 2½” the first time, re-set blade to 3½ “ and the brown grass will be covered by new growth and soon decompose.

VOLES - Meadow voles (field mice) love plush green lawns and can do severe damage under snow banks. If you border a field, wetland, vacant lot or brushy area or have thick shrubbery or rock walls you are at higher risk. Control with snap traps baited with peanut butter, or mouse poison. Start control when you see any nests or trails and continue control with weather resistant bait right through winter.