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Fall Lawn Myths: Busted

Lawn & Yard Care

As we say goodbye to sun hats and hello to sweaters, it can feel like the rules for fall lawn care change as quickly as the autumn leaves. But how do you separate fall lawn care facts from fiction?

We’re busting some common fall lawn care myths and offering solutions rooted in reality, so you can set your lawn up for success season after season.

Myth #1: Grass doesn’t need to be watered in the fall.

Reality: If you stop watering your lawn too soon, you may miss an important recovery period. Grass that enters the winter months in good condition will be better prepared to thrive come spring. With its sunlight and cooler temperatures, autumn is the perfect time to rejuvenate your grass after the hot summer months—but your lawn needs consistent watering to bounce back. Strive for one inch of water per week, including rainfall. A wind-resistant sprinkler is a good choice for fall watering because it automatically adjusts the height of its spray on breezy days to avoid wasting water. If you get frequent rainfall in the fall months, adjust your watering timer to water less often, and you’ll be set. A Gilmour watering timer also allows you to delay a scheduled watering session if you experience unexpected rainfall.  

Myth #2: Spring is the best time to seed the yard.

Reality: For many kinds of grass, especially cool-weather types like Kentucky Bluegrass and Rye, it’s actually better to seed your lawn in the fall—not spring. If you live in the northern half of the country, aim to reseed all or parts of your grass around Labor Day to get all the benefits of autumn’s shorter days and cooler temperatures. Be sure to finish reseeding by the middle of September, so your new grass will have time to grow and establish a root system before the winter cold. Remember that spots damaged by heat, dog urine or other stressors may also require additional care. A stationary square sprinkler is great for spot-watering new seed because it targets smaller areas with a gentle spray.

Myth #3: Using spiked shoes helps aerate the lawn.

Reality: Aerating your lawn creates holes in the soil, promoting drainage and allowing helpful microorganisms to thrive. Many homeowners think they can get the benefits of aeration by walking across their lawns in special spiked shoes. The reality? This method is inefficient (unless you want to spend an entire day walking around your lawn!) Plus, your bodyweight compacts the already compacted soil, rather than creating space for growth. If you want to aerate your lawn, your best bet is to hire a lawn care service, or rent an aerator from a home improvement store and do it yourself.

Myth #4: Cutting your grass shorter will allow you to mow less.

Reality: After a long growing (and mowing) season, it’s tempting to ease up on your lawn cutting routine. It’s true that cutting grass short will lengthen time between mowing sessions, but short grass also tends to be less healthy and more susceptible to risk. Keeping your grass short allows weeds to get more sunlight and thus better compete with your grass. Shorter grass also has a shallower root system, making it more vulnerable to drought. While you may get a few extra days between mows, the risks could jeopardize the lawn you’ve worked so hard to maintain.

Myth #5: You need to rake all the leaves off your lawn.

Reality: A thick layer of autumn leaves can smother your grass, but you don’t need to rake every last one from your lawn. In fact, an accumulation of leaves enriches your lawn with healthy nutrients. Mow over the leaves a few times and leave the fine pieces to decompose over time. You can also use shredded leaves as mulch in your garden beds.

With these popular myths dispelled, you can smoothly transition your grass into fall. The final weeks of the growing season will be colored by changing leaves and Betterdays.

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