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End of Summer Lawn Care

Post Date: October 24th, 2012

As of September 22, 2012 summer officially ended in Vancouver. By most accounts, this summer has been a pretty good one with plenty of sunny days before the most recent overcast and rainy days.


It’s now time to get your lawn prepared for fall and winter. After spending time making your thick green lawn the envy of your neighborhood, don’t let the cold get the best of it. Here are a few tips to help your lawn survive the colder seasons:


mower on lawn


1. Increase Trimming Length

Mow your lawn and maintain the grass height of 2 to 2 ½ inches.

Tip: The height of the grass should be inversely related to temperatures. Higher temperatures mean that you should cut your grass shorter so that your lawn uses less of the available nutrients. With lower temperatures, you should start leaving the blades of grass a little bit taller. Taller grass has longer roots and can retain more nutrients to survive the colder seasons.


When you finally decide to give your lawn its last cut, you can cut it to a height similar to the short summer height. In a typical Vancouver winter, you won’t have to worry too much about colder winter damages.


manual core aeration


2. Aeration

Aeration (or Core Aeration) is done by creating small holes throughout your lawn by extracting plugs of soil (also known as “coring”). The benefits of aeration:

-   creates passageways for water, essential nutrients and beneficial worms to reach

under the soil and nurture the grassroots

-   oxygen gets to the roots and soil, allowing it to breathe

-   organic fertilizers and nutrients are absorbed by the root system

-   water soaks more thoroughly into the soil and reaches the root system

-   tight, compacted soil is loosened up allowing the roots to grow.


The end of the season is a good time to perform aeration on your lawn after all of the summertime use. Aerators can be found in most home and gardening stores or you can rent an aerator machine. One quick way and inexpensive way to aerate your lawn without using specific aerating equipment is to use a pitchfork to manually create holes in your lawn. This may be tedious and slow but it does get the job done in the pitch and you’ll get some exercise too!


overseeding a lawn


3. Seeding

Grass experts know that the best way to defend your lawn from invading weeds is to maintain a thick and healthy lawn that can fight them off. A simple natural way of controlling weeds is to “overseed” your lawn. A thick grass competes for soil nutrients and makes it harder for weeds to claim the territory. Fall is a good time to add seeds to your lawn because your lawn uses the cool fall days to regenerate itself and get ready for winter after the heat and dryness of the summer.


Seeding is perfect after aeration because the seeds can fall into the small grooves in the soil, improving seed-soil contact. There are many grass seed mixtures designed for different conditions. There are mixtures for shady areas and for areas under direct sunlight. Choose what is applicable to your lawn. Use a rotary spreader at the recommended rate when applying seeds for better distribution. In Vancouver, the fall weather is wet enough to keep the seeds hydrated but it is still a good idea to monitor your lawn and water it if you see dry spots.


grub on soil


4. De-Grubbing

Grubs are larvae that grow into bugs and can be often found beneath your lawn, near the surface of the soil. They feed on the grass roots, causing ugly brown patches of dead grass to form. Rings of dead grass can be pulled effortlessly if tugged by hands. Grubs usually become active by the end of the summer and early fall, killing the green grass and attracting skunks, raccoons and moles who are look for food.


raccoon on lawn


If you have small armies of raccoons digging your lawn up for a treat, consider controlling grubs by giving your lawn a dose of nematodes. They are nature’s grub killers and they work by infesting grey and white grubs in the soil before the family of raccoons rips your lawn up looking for their dinner. Selecting the right species of nematodes is important because they have different effects on different grubs. Fall is the best season for controlling grubs because the newly hatched larvae are still small and easy to kill. It is a proactive approach to contain lawn damage until next spring.


5. Fertilizing

The last important step is to fertilize the lawn. The most favorable application of lawn nutrients is in the fall because the grass roots are building up and storing natural sugars for the potentially long, cold winter. A good fertilizer in preparation for the winter should have high potassium content to help build a strong root system and moderate amount of nitrogen to avoid a surge in growth. Choose a slow-release nitrogen formula so that it can evenly spread the distribution of nutrients.


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