Living in California has it perks, but keeping a healthy looking grass year round is not one of them. People take pride in their lawns because it is a lot of work to have a consistent looking yard year round. We’ve prepared a checklist of things you can do in the fall to prepare your lawn to thrive in the spring:
Continue to mow
Dial your blades down and mow your grass lower than normal. This allows the grass to conserve its energy longer as the warm-season grass comes to a dormant period.
Fertilize to prolong it
Applying an good general fertilizer in the late spring or fall such as 15-15-15 will prolong the color of the turf but also help it store up the nutrients for its spring growth. As the weather cools, your warm season and cool season turf begins to slow down in growth. During this time it needs to store up the carbohydrates and nutrients for that spring growth spurt. Without the proper nutrients in place the spring growth of the turf will be weak and set up your lawn for poor performance throughout the year.
Overseed with the opposite
As your warm-season grass (Bermuda) starts to brown and die out due to weather changes, overseed with some cool-season grass (rye) so that you will have a smooth transition from warm to cool-season grass with little brown time. Then once spring rolls around again, the warm-season grass will automatically start to spring back to life on its own just as the cool-season grass dies out (remember, cool-season grass won’t reoccur unless planted). By mixing the two grasses, it also stimulates the soil and keeps it lively year round.
Kill the weeds
Applying a good pre-emergent herbicide between October and December will help keep down the pesky weeds all winter long, thus giving the warm-season grass a chance in the spring.
Rake after mowing
By removing the leftover clippings after mowing, you allow the grass to breathe thus prolonging the cool-season grass lifespan. Leaving the clippings may results in grass dying faster and leaving it smelling almost moldy after a long period of time.
Aeration is the acupuncture for your yard and it has the same type of effect. By poking small holes throughout your yard during the fall season, you relieve compaction, allow the soil to breathe and give a passage way for moisture to work its way into. Aeration done during the fall prolongs the life of your yard far into the spring season.
Cool-season grass needs to be watered at least twice a week, and easy way to detect this is to look at the position of the blades.
The more that they droop over, the more water they need, easy as that. Make sure not to over water during the cool-season. This will cause the grass to become dependent and weak. Watering twice a week, makes the roots dig deeper for water, creating stronger grass. Another test to see if you are properly watering the soil is to take a screw driver and stick it in the dirt. If it goes in easy and pulls out clean, then you are all set. If it comes out muddy your irrigating too much. Consistent watering will also ensure that the warm-season grass comes back strong once spring arrives.
These guidelines give your lawn the best chance to come in strong during the spring season. Always keep in mind that warm-season grass is just dormant and is still living there. Surrounding it by good nutrition, air, water and life will make transitioning from winter to spring a breeze.