Fall is officially here, and cooler temperatures are on the way to Central Florida! Did you know that fall is one of the best times to assess your lawn’s landscaping needs? It’s important to ensure your yard is properly prepared around this time of year as the temperatures start to decline. We here at Daniel’s Lawn Service want to help you get your lawn primed and ready to go for spring! Whether you’re a novice to gardening or have an experienced green thumb, this blog is sure to help you “spring” into action! Continue reading to learn about your lawn’s needs for the change of the season.
Aerate and Fertilize Your Lawn
Like most people, you may not realize your lawn care regime might be missing a step that could greatly benefit your lawn’s health. The step is aeration. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of it before — since it’s not widely necessary with Florida’s sandy soil — but the process of loosening up your soil can make a huge difference in the way your yard looks come springtime. There are a couple of reasons your yard could use aeration — such as large lawn equipment, heavy traffic flow or a newly constructed home. These situations are known to compress soil tightly together. Aeration does two things: It helps loosen compacted grassroots and opens up the ground so it is more receptive to moisture, fertilizer and seed. Aerating the soil during your fall landscaping will give it a healthier start for the following spring. You can learn more about aeration by reading our blog post, “Why You Should Aerate Your Lawn.”
An article from Briggs & Stratton offer these tips to get you started:
- Start with moist soil (wait 24 hours after a rainstorm or irrigation).
- Choose a tool or a machine that actually removes “plugs” of soil from the lawn, rather than making a hole in the ground. That causes the surrounding area of the hole to compact roots and grass even more, thus defeating the purpose of aerating your lawn.
- Since most machines and tools only cover a small percentage of soil surface, multiple passes might be necessary.
- Once the plugs have dried, they can be broken up and spread over your lawn for a clean appearance (the plugs can be broken up using your lawn mower or by pounding them with the back of a rake).
After aerating your lawn, the next step would be to have your soil tested to determine the kind of nutrients it needs and the balance of the pH level. This will help you to select the proper fertilizer that will support the growth of your plants and flowers.
Florida soil is naturally lacking in nutrients due to its general sandy nature, but that can be fixed with a little fertilizer. October is the last recommended month to fertilize prior to winter. Depending on your plants, you might need to fertilize more often than once a year, so make sure to research the care that your plants need. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use for the best results. Look for a brand that contains a slow release of nitrogen and potassium, and has a nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratio of 16-4-8.
Control Weeds and Insect Pests
Different types of weeds, pests and insects can pop up all year long. However, they are easier to get rid of in the fall. By choosing a pre-emergent and/or herbicide and applying it to your soil after aeration is the best way to prevent rapid growth of weeds and keep away pests and insects in the future.
After applying your pre-emergent, you may have to pull out a couple of stragglers after the initial application, but if rampant weed growth continues, you will require the help of a lawn service professional. The best time to apply a herbicide or pre-emergent is when the weather reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for four consecutive nights, around late September and into October. For more advice about dealing with weeds, read our blog post, “Weeding and Feeding Your Florida Lawn.”
When it comes to recognizing if you have an insect infestation, look for brown patches or any discoloration in your yard. Some of the insects to watch out for during the cooler months include:
- Fall armyworms
- Mole crickets
- Sod webworms
- Southern chinch bugs
Treating for these pests needs to be done quickly, before they cause lasting damage to your lawn. If you are looking for earth-friendly pesticides that are non-toxic to humans and animals, you can visit a list we have provided on our blog post — “Earth Friendly Pesticides” — for natural ingredients that can be used to mix your own pesticides.
Perform Seeding and Overseeding
While overseeding may sound like a bad thing because of its name, it actually refers to the process of spreading seeds over the ground — typically over a patch of thinning grass. This process reduces the rate of aging and the decline of the turf itself. Overseeding is used in conjunction with aeration because it allows the seeds to reach closer to the already existing root system, providing the seed-to-soil contact that allows seeds to germinate and sprout.
Homeowners often ask if they can just toss a handful of seeds over a thinning patch, but without aeration, the results won’t yield much due to the seeds not being able to germinate properly. Overseeding helps retain the soil’s moisture, return nutrients to the grass and prevents weeds from growing due to the thicker grass. It’s also very cost-effective while producing amazing results if the process is done correctly.
Seeding occurs when you have an expansive area of bare or fresh soil to work with rather than a thinning, already turfed patch. Whether the soil is fresh or bare, seeding works great to rejuvenate the area with a vibrant area of grass. A good rule of thumb is that the less seeds you use, the longer it will take to knit in and the longer it takes to knit in, the more susceptible to weeds your lawn will be.
Both of these methods require technique and timing. The best time to seed in Central Florida is in the fall, since the cooler temperatures will make better conditions for your new growth. If you’re unsure about your ability to seed or when to seed, it’s best to contact a lawn care professional.
Plan Ahead and Plant for Spring
Fall is the best time to consider the plants you want to have growing by spring. You can also decide which herbs and vegetables to plant for winter. We found this list from Gaston Mulch of climate approved plants, herbs and vegetables to help in your decision:
- Green onions
- Lettuce and kale
Fall is the perfect time to consider planting more delicate, young plants so that they can develop good root systems before the humid, summer months roll in. For more information about taking care of your lawn during the cooler months, read our blog post, “Taking Care of Your Lawn in the Fall.”
Ensuring your yard is properly maintained and taken care of is a big job that requires time and commitment, not to mention a lot of time on your knees, to keep your design flowing all year long. If you dream of your own slice of Central Florida paradise, but don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it, call our lawn experts at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing. We provide professional lawn care and landscaping services throughout Central Florida, including the Seminole County cities of Lake Mary, Longwood and Sanford. We have decades of experience treating Florida lawns for their needs in all seasons, and we would love to treat yours, too! Our full-service company provides landscape design, tree installation, tree trimming, yard maintenance, pressure washing and so much more. Contact us today!