8 Common Questions About Fall Lawn Care In Utah

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Fall is a critical time for lawn care in Utah. The actions you take during the cooler autumn months will significantly impact your lawn's health over winter and its vitality in spring. Fall lawn care is crucial for repairing summer damage, strengthening roots, and preventing problems like diseases and snow mold. 

Let’s take a look at some questions homeowners frequently ask us about fall lawn care in Utah! If you have any questions of your own that you would like us to address, feel free to reach out to Holmes Lawn & Pest any time!

1. How Should I Fertilize My Lawn In Fall?

Fall fertilization is essential for a healthy lawn in Utah. It provides your grass with the nutrients it needs to recover from summer stress, store energy for the winter, and develop strong roots for a vigorous spring green-up. Ideally, you should fertilize your lawn twice in the fall. The first application should be in early to mid-September, and the second application should be in late October or early November, before the ground freezes. 

  • What type of fertilizer should I use? Look for a slow-release, nitrogen-rich, granular fertilizer specifically formulated for fall lawn care. A good option is a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 20-0-10 or similar. The high nitrogen content promotes top growth and greening, while the potassium helps improve winter hardiness and disease resistance. 

2. Do Weed Killers Work In Fall?

Yes, weed killers can be very effective in the fall, but it depends on the type of weed killer and the specific weeds you are targeting. Fall is an excellent time to control perennial weeds, such as dandelions and clover, as they are actively storing nutrients in their roots for the winter. The herbicides can be more easily transported to the roots during this time, leading to more effective control. Apply post-emergent herbicides for perennial weeds in early fall, while the weeds are still actively growing and before the first frost.

  • What type of weed killer should I use in the fall? For perennial weeds, use a post-emergent herbicide that is absorbed through the leaves and travels to the roots. Look for products containing active ingredients like 2,4-D, triclopyr, or dicamba. These herbicides are effective against a wide range of broadleaf weeds. While pre-emergent herbicides are primarily used in the spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating, some can be used in the fall to target winter annual weeds.

3. When Should I Stop Watering My Lawn?

As temperatures cool down in the fall, your lawn's water needs decrease. Gradually reduce the frequency and amount of watering as the season progresses. Typically, you can stop watering altogether by late October or early November, depending on the weather conditions.

  • How can I tell if my lawn needs watering? Look for signs of drought stress, such as footprints that remain visible in the grass, a bluish-gray tint to the lawn, or wilting grass blades. If you're unsure, stick a screwdriver into the soil. If it goes in easily, the soil is moist enough.

4. How Short Should I Cut My Grass?

Gradually lower your mower blade as fall progresses. Start by cutting your grass to about 2.5-3 inches in early fall. By late fall, you can lower the blade to about 2 inches. This helps prevent matting and reduces the risk of snow mold. It's generally best to leave grass clippings on your lawn in the fall, as they act as a natural fertilizer and help insulate the soil. If you have a thick layer of leaves, it's best to remove them to prevent them from smothering the grass.

  • When should I cut the grass for the final time in fall? In Utah, the timing of your last grass cutting in the fall depends on the weather and your grass type. However, a general rule of thumb is to mow your lawn for the last time about one week before the first expected frost. This typically falls sometime in late October or early November.

5. Should I Remove Or Ignore Leaves On My Lawn?

While a few leaves can be beneficial, acting as a natural mulch and returning nutrients to the soil, a thick layer of leaves can smother your lawn. Leaves block sunlight and trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for fungal diseases like snow mold. It is always best to rake up or mulch mow large quantities of leaves as soon as they begin to accumulate to ensure that your lawn stays healthy through winter and into spring. 

  • What's the best way to deal with leaves? Regularly rake or mow leaves to prevent them from accumulating. You can compost the leaves or use them as mulch in your garden beds. If you have a mulching mower, it can chop leaves into fine pieces that will decompose more quickly and benefit your lawn. Mulch mowing is best when done immediately after leaves fall, but bagging leaves is a better option for older, wet leaves. 

6. Should I Be Worried About Lawn Grubs & Diseases In Fall?

Grubs are the larvae of various beetles and can cause significant damage to your lawn by feeding on the roots. Signs of a grub problem include brown patches, wilting grass, and increased animal activity, as birds and skunks dig for grubs. Similar-looking damage can be caused by common lawn diseases. Some lawn diseases, like snow mold, are more prevalent in the fall and winter. Snow mold thrives in cool, moist conditions and can damage your lawn under a layer of snow.

  • How can I prevent grubs and snow mold? Avoid late-fall fertilization, keep your lawn clear of leaves and debris, and avoid walking on your lawn when it's covered in snow.  Applying a preventative fungicide in the fall can also help protect your lawn from snow mold. If you suspect a grub problem, you can confirm it by digging up a small section of your lawn and looking for white, C-shaped grubs in the soil. 

7. How Should I Water Newly Seeded Grass?

Newly seeded lawns require special attention when it comes to watering. In most cases, overseeding is preferred in the fall because it helps improve the density of your lawn and enhance its overall health. Reseeding is usually reserved for areas with significant damage, but both are effective seeding techniques for fall conditions. The key is to keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. While deep, infrequent watering is the best option for established lawns, this method will not yield results for your newly planted seed. Water lightly and frequently, several times a day, to prevent the seeds from drying out.

  • How often should I water new grass seed?  Watering should be done every couple of hours or so in order to keep the top layer of your lawn damp at all times until growth is evident, which usually takes two to three weeks. As the seedlings emerge and begin to grow, you can gradually reduce the frequency of watering and increase the amount of water applied each time.

8. Why Should I Aerate & Dethatch In Fall?

Fall is an ideal time to aerate your lawn in Utah. Aeration helps relieve soil compaction, improves drainage, and allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots more effectively. This is particularly important after a hot, dry summer, but it is equally important before the ground freezes over for winter. Thatch is a layer of dead grass, roots, and debris that accumulates between the soil and the grass blades all summer long. Dethatching at the time of aeration is best because it allows the soil to breathe and aerate to its full potential, meaning more nutrients can get down to the roots before winter dormancy. 

  • What is the best way to aerate my lawn? You can rent a core aerator from a local home improvement store or hire a professional lawn care service to do it for you. If you have a small lawn, you can also use a manual or spike aerator. Here at Holmes Lawn & Pest, we would like to encourage our readers to try our liquid aeration services this fall! Liquid aeration provides the same results and benefits as core aeration without the unsightly holes and plugs all over your lawn. Call us today for more information!

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