Lawns in October

Control Broadleaf Weeds with Liquid TRIMEC Herbicide – As of this writing (October 1) we’ve not yet had any kind of an overnight frost.  We’ve been into the 40s several times, but no frost yet.  Perennial weeds (dandelions, clover, plantain, ground ivy, and more) are still growing in your yards.  There’s still time to eliminate them this fall if you hurry.  Perennial weeds MUST be growing actively, to absorb the herbicide, in order to kill them.  We’ve reached the time of the fall when, if you apply TRIMEC now and wait 2 weeks before doing any seeding, you’ll be limited in what seed mixes you’ll be able to use and still achieve full germination this fall, but it’s still strongly recommended that you remove the weeds now.  However, if any of you have seeded already this fall, do not apply TRIMEC this fall, no matter how early you seeded, and no matter whether or not you think you’ve achieved complete germination.  The herbicide will damage the young seedlings.

Seeding Lawns in October – Fall is by far the best time of the year for seeding.  The ground is warmer than the air at this time of the year and rainfall is more regular than at any other time of the year, plus we have extremely heavy overnight dews.  Thus, resulting in better seedling development following germination.  These conditions promote better, deeper seedling root systems.  However, the earlier, the better as far as fall seeding is concerned, because soil temperatures affect germination speed. The seed cultivars that comprise 100% of seed blends sold in this region are bluegrasses, fescues (fine or hybrid tall), and hybrid perennial ryegrasses.  Of these varieties, ryegrasses are the quickest to germinate, followed by the fescues, and lastly, the bluegrasses.  As the days grow shorter and the overnight temperatures gradually drop, germination times for all seeds become longer.  Therefore, it is extremely important for those of you who will be seeding this fall, to do these three things:  properly prepare the seed bed to allow the new seed to make good contact with the soil, seed as soon as possible, and water regularly after seeding to keep the seed bed moist.  You need not worry about how mature the new seedlings are when the growing season ends; grasses are hardy plants.  It is only critical that you achieve as close to complete germination as possible this fall so the root systems will develop this fall after the top growth has stopped.

Fertilizing Lawns in Mid-October – We strongly advocate fertilizing lawns twice in the fall: September, to help recover from summer stress, and November to build strong, deep root systems before the ground freezes solid, and to green and thicken the lawn in the early spring.  However, those of you who, for whatever reason haven’t yet applied your “early fall fertilizer”, you could either feed it right away, with our early fall fertilizer (16-2-3) and feed again, with WINTERFEAST fertilizer after Thanksgiving, OR withhold feeding until late October/early November (after we have a killing frost), and then apply our WINTERFEAST fertilizer.  The most important feeding of the year for lawns is the WINTERFEAST feeding in November.  To apply WINTERFEAST in mid-October, when top growth is still actively happening will diminish its value next spring. 

Liming and Core Aerating in October – This is an ideal time to lime and/or core aerate lawns.  Liming can be done at any time when the ground isn’t frozen.  Regular liming reduces soil acidity and promotes better use of the nutrients in the soil by the grass plants.  Core aeration is best done when grass is actively growing and the ground is soft, so 2”-3” plugs can be pulled from the lawn.  Now is the perfect time for that.  Regular core aeration reduces soil compaction, promotes deeper root growth, improves moisture penetration and helps breakdown thatch build up. Core aerating is also the best way to prepare the ground for overseeding. 

Mowing and Leaf Removal in October – Lawns are still growing actively.  Top growth in the fall is not as fast as in the spring, but it is still growing and needs regular mowing.  Because the air temperatures are no longer reaching the mid-80s and above (when grass plants suffer heat stress), we recommend that mowing heights be reduced to 3-3 ½”, but regular (weekly) mowing be continued for at least another 6 weeks – until late November, when top growth virtually stops and only roots continue to grow.  Also, as the leaves are now falling from all deciduous trees in great profusion, you must strive to keep them from accumulating on grassy areas.  Blow the leaves off the lawn, rake them, vacuum them, or chop them with the lawn mower, but do not let them accumulate on the grass. 

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