Treat your battered lawn to a little TLC this fall, and it will reward you with lush, healthy grass come spring.
- Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, perennial ryegrass) are better suited for cooler climates, are most productive in spring and fall, sometimes take more irrigation and are generally mowed higher than warm-season grasses due to their erect growth habit.
- Warm-season grasses (Bermuda, St. Augustine, big bluestem) grow best in warmer climates, are typically more drought tolerant and are often mowed at lower heights.
If you have just a little buildup, you can use a hard rake or a dethatching rake to remove the dead grass, but if you have more than 1/2 inch you will need to core aerate in the fall or the spring.
Core aeration uses rentable equipment to remove plugs of soil, increasing the soil's ability to receive water, air and fertilizer. If your buildup is thicker than 2/3 inch, you will need to not only core aerate but add 1/8 to 1/4 inch of organic matter like compost or peat. Water in well.
If you have just a few weeds, pull them out by hand, but more numerous weeds may require additional tactics or chemicals — either organic or nonorganic. As with fertilizers, always follow the package directions when applying any chemical to your lawn to avoid damaging it and the surrounding plants. Don't worry about any bare spots left by weed removal; your healthy grass will take over those areas in no time.
Before you sow, be sure you have prepared the soil correctly to get the best results. Till the soil at least 6 inches deep, add 1/2 to 1 inch or so of compost or peat, rake the soil smooth and sow the seeds. Water in well and keep the soil consistently moist until after the new growth emerges, or about 6 weeks.