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From Lawn Care to Gardening, Keeping Thumbs Green Through the Fall is a Must
Michigan Ag Connection - 09/22/2023

The sun is setting earlier, temperatures are dropping and the countdown to the final mow of the year is on. But the start of the fall season isn’t the time to put the brakes on caring for your green spaces, according to Purdue experts.

Starting in September, lawn caretakers have roughly 60 days of ideal growing weather left for their yards, explains Cale Bigelow, professor of horticulture and landscape architecture. Turf varieties that continue to grow well into fall include tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.

When temperatures start to drop, many plants respond by storing carbohydrates. Bigelow said this time frame is best described as “maximizing the plant’s savings account,” as they prepare for dormancy until the next year’s growing season begins. Knowing plants are working to harbor nutrients, the fall season is one of the best times to apply fertilizer.

“Granular fertilizer is best to be applied around or after Labor Day, which will allow for around five weeks of feeding from that application,” Bigelow explains. “Come Halloween time, you’ll want to revisit your lawn to apply a highly water-soluble fertilizer, like urea-based fertilizer, which will give your yard more energy for next year.”

Using this feeding schedule for lawns will maximize photosynthesis abilities, allowing the grass to put ample carbohydrates into its “savings account” over the winter months. Bigelow said the timed fertilizer applications will also keep grass looking healthy and green often well into December.

With continued feeding comes continued growth. Bigelow explains keeping lawns cut at three inches tall is optimal while also ensuring your lawn doesn’t get smothered by falling leaves. For lawns needing a bit of reseeding, mid-September to mid-October offers a good window of opportunity. That time frame also allows for preventive weed control.


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