Fall is the Perfect Time to Think Spring!

Tim’s Tips:  Steps to take right now for a lush lawn in the spring.

Fall is not only a good time to enjoy a pumpkin spiced latte, it’s also the best time to do some lawn care prep for a lush, green spring.  So whether you are looking to enjoy a green lawn for yourself, or if you want to really impress the neighbors, get to work right about now.

Timing is key.  Start your fall lawn care regimen when it starts to cool down (by mid to end of September).  Your last chance to get it in is usually by November or before you winterize your irrigation.  Northern Nevada’s weather can be interesting, so just keep an eye on the weather to get your timing right.

Break up thatched grass.  Thatch in your lawn is a build up of old grass clippings, dead roots and other lawn debris.  Thatching your lawn can help speed up the spring process by getting the old dead grass out of there; otherwise, it takes longer for fertilizer to get down to the roots.

Thatch can be a good or bad thing for your turf grass depending on the amount present.    Too much thatch (about an inch or more) can keep water and nutrients from reaching roots.  It can also lead to pest or fungal problems.

To break up thatch, you’ll need a good thatcher.  A thatcher has blades that run perpendicular to the surface.  The blades rotate and slice into thatch breaking up the compacted debris.  The blades can be adjusted to make sure you remove just the right amount of thatch.  Then, you can help prevent thatch with proper aeration.

Core Aeration

Core Aerated Lawn

Aerate.  I recommend a core aerator.  A core aerator removes small cylinders of turf from your lawn and leaves them on the surface.  This helps decompact soil and allows oxygen, water and fertilizer to get deep into the root system.  It also encourages deep root growth that will help your grass weather the winter and pop up green and healthy around March or April.  Another plus— healthier, stronger roots are better able to tolerate drought.  Aerating twice a year is ideal, especially in the fall.

Don’t forget the fertilizer.  Fall fertilizer assists with root development before winter sets in and can help your grass better survive rough weather conditions and become more resistant to disease and drought.

Be sure to apply fertilizer according to the instructions.  You’ve heard the expression “too much of a good thing.”  It applies to fertilizer too.  You don’t want to over fertilize or you may burn your grass.

Once you’ve applied your fertilizer, be sure to water it in so that it gets down to the roots.  Including your fall fertilizer application, I recommend five fertilizations a year for a healthy lawn.

Lastly, don’t forget to turn your irrigation system back on in the spring (late March at lower elevations and April at higher elevations).

Bonus tip:  don’t mow your grass too short for the final mow of the season.  At this time, grass is taking in nutrients to store in its roots to survive the winter and come back healthy and green in the spring.

The key thing to remember is green in means green out.  If you want to know more about how to ready your lawn for a green spring, talk to a landscape professional.


Tim Scott is a landscaping professional and is an Owner/Partner and Residential Division Manager of Signature Landscapes.