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How to care for your lawn in the fall

It’s officially fall. The days are getting noticeably shorter, the leaves are changing color and there’s a slight chill in the air. It’s time to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, don’t put away those yard tools just yet. There’s still some work that needs to be done.

While many of your lawn care tasks should get easier or be finished by October, there are still a few important tasks you need to continue performing. Especially with the changing climate. And there are a few new chores that you will need to incorporate into your fall lawn care routine.

Why your lawn still needs care in the fall

Fall is the time of year when life slows down a little. The sun isn’t out as much, the temperatures drop and more living is done indoors. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your responsibility to your lawn has ended for the year. There are two main reasons you need to continue lawn care into the fall: the grass is still growing and the leaves are falling.

Grass is still growing

Believe it or not, grass grows all year round. However, when the temperatures drop, it doesn’t grow fast enough to require mowing. Leading up to that first frost, or when the soil temperature drops, you still need to mow. If you stop cutting the grass just because fall is here, the blades may grow too tall to support themselves, so they will lean over. When they lay overtop of the soil, it can smother surrounding grass and trap moisture, which can allow fungus and disease to spread. When the spring arrives, you will realize the damage you’ve done.

Leaves are falling

If you have just a few trees on or around your property, at some point, your lawn will be covered in leaves. While a few scattered leaves aren’t too bad, if they blanket your lawn or cover patches, the leaves will create a barrier and prevent sun and nutrients from getting to the roots. Additionally, leaves can trap moisture and allow fungus and disease to spread. If you have an abundance of fallen leaves, you will need to mulch or remove those leaves.

How late into the fall should I care for my lawn?

Depending on which website you visit and which product the site is endorsing, you will find all sorts of answers to how late into the fall you should care for your lawn. It is important to think about this question logically and consider all the variables before deciding if your lawn needs more care or not.

If you have warm-season grass, it will go dormant when the soil temperature drops and remains below 55 degrees. If you have cool-season grass, this will happen when the soil temperature drops below 45 degrees.

Variables such as changing climate and region will affect when grass goes dormant. Watch to see if your grass is still growing and pay attention to temperatures. It could also help to buy a soil thermometer so you know when the soil temperature drops below 55 or 45 degrees. As a general rule of thumb, if your grass stops noticeably growing for a few weeks, it has gone dormant.

Which lawn care tasks to avoid in the fall

While grass doesn’t completely stop growing when it is dormant, it doesn’t grow enough to require tending. This means any task you do that requires the grass to be strong and growing should be done before your grass goes dormant. Overseeding, for instance, won’t be as effective in the fall because the soil will be too cold for the seeds to germinate. Likewise, aerating and dethatching too late in the season can cause problems because it may be too traumatizing and the grass won’t grow back.

When in doubt, most yard-tending and nurturing tasks should be done slightly before or during the peak growing season. 

Best fall lawn care tools

Best EGO PowerPlus Lithium-ion Cordless Lawn Mower

EGO PowerPlus Lithium-ion Cordless Lawn Mower

You’ll still have to cut the grass in the fall. This electric mower has a 45-minute run time, push-button start, adjustable cutting height and the ability to mulch, bag or discharge.

Sold by Amazon

Best Gorilla Carts 7 Cubic Feet Poly Yard Dump Cart

Gorilla Carts 7 Cubic Feet Poly Yard Dump Cart

For transporting, dirt, mulch, rocks, leaves and more, you need a rugged dump cart. This model by Gorilla has a rustproof bed, a 1,200-pound weight capacity and never-go-flat tires.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler

Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler

After picking up all those leaves, you need a place to put them. This tumbling compost unit has a dual-chamber design for higher capacity and the tumbling action makes it easy to turn your compost pile.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Toro UltraPlus 3-in-1 Leaf Blower

Toro UltraPlus 3-in-1 Leaf Blower

This 3-in-1 leaf blower also vacuums and mulches, allowing you to take care of all your leaf clearing tasks with one handy piece of durable equipment.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Craftsman Leaf Blower

Craftsman Leaf Blower

If you prefer the Craftsman brand, this affordable electric blower can also blow, vacuum and mulch. It has two speeds, interchangeable nozzle connections and delivers up to 230 mph of wind.

Sold by Amazon

Best Gardzen 2-Pack Large Yard Dustpan-Type Garden Bag

Gardzen 2-Pack Large Yard Dustpan-Type Garden Bag

Protect your back. These heavy-duty reusable leaf bags can be filled like a dustpan, so there is no need for constant squatting and bending to fill them up. Each bag holds up to 110 pounds of yard waste.

Sold by Amazon

Best GardenHome Leaf Scoops

GardenHome Leaf Scoops

To help you clean those leaves up faster, you could use an extra-large set of hands. These adjustable scoops fit both kids and adults. They are lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant.

Sold by Amazon

Best Ames Steel-Tine Leaf Rake

Ames Steel-Tine Leaf Rake

If you prefer raking, this model from Ames has 22 steel tines that are strong enough for grass, hay, leaves and more. The hardwood and steel handle has a 6-inch comfort grip to protect your hands.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best Reotemp 12-Inch Soil and Compost Thermometer

Reotemp 12-Inch Soil and Compost Thermometer

A soil thermometer tells you the temperature of the soil. This is the best way to check when you need to take care of your grass. This model has a 12-inch stem and is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel.

Sold by Amazon

Best Leaf Easy Plastic Leaf and Lawn Chute

Leaf Easy Plastic Leaf and Lawn Chute

If you use a disposable leaf bag, this convenient chute fits in the top to hold your bag open for easy filling. It folds flat for storage and lasts for multiple seasons. It is made of recyclable, high-density corrugated plastic.

Sold by Home Depot

Best The Home Depot 30-Gallon Paper Lawn and Leaf Bags

The Home Depot 30-Gallon Paper Lawn and Leaf Bags 

For communities that have leaf pick-up, a paper yard-waste bag is often the best choice. This affordable offering from Home Depot can hold dry or moist leaves and grass clippings. They come five in a pack and have a 30-gallon capacity.

Sold by Home Depot

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