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Frugal Fall Yard Care

fallEven though it may still be quite warm where you are, it’s time to face the fact that summer will soon be over. Before you get caught up in all the activities and holidays of fall, it’s time to take a look at your lawn and get it ready for the coming months.

In the past few weeks, grub damage might have started appearing. It shows itself as dying patches that can take over your lawn a little at a time and if unchecked, can make it so weak that it can be rolled back like a carpet. It’s caused by the small, white, beetle larvae that feed on the roots of plants. Apply grub control at the right time, and crisis averted, lawn saved.

Here are some tips for grub control:

Test To See If It’s Really Grubs

You might have started to see visible damage in late July or August. Test to find out if you have a grub infestation and how widespread it is by digging up a few small, scattered sections of lawn about a foot square and two inches deep.

Your lawn can handle fewer than five grub worms in a section, but if the count is is ten or more, it’s time to apply grub control. If the average count per section is between five and ten, it’s up to you to decide whether your lawn is generally healthy enough to maintain itself without treatment.

Buy the Right Product

A general insecticide you might have at home isn’t the answer. The risk is that it may not get rid of the grubs but that it might kill your lawn in the process. Be sure you use a specific product that will aim at grubs when they’re still feeding near the surface of your lawn and before they lay their eggs, killing them and any of their hatchlings before they have a chance to mature.

Water After Applying

Apply the grub control according to directions, and then water it into the soil. This not only pushes the product down to the thatch layer, but it also entices the grubs to move upward in the soil and closer to the control product.

Now on to the Rest

You may have thought that late winter was the time to prepare for the new grass that will sprout in spring, but autumn is actually when you want to prepare your lawn for a lush and healthy carpet of green lawn that will thrive through next summer.

If the leaves are turning, it’s time for these steps:

Adjust watering based on the weather. A lawn doesn’t need more than an inch of water a week no matter what the season, so keep an eye on the sky and adjust your sprinklers accordingly.

Reduce mowing schedule but don’t stop. Grass won’t be growing as fast now, but overgrown grass encourages weeds and insects. Mowing not only keeps your lawn neat and healthy, but it chews up fallen leaves and turns them into good mulch.

Rake and dethatch. A soggy blanket of fallen leaves will stifle your lawn. While you’re raking them up, apply pressure to loosen and remove the tangled layer of plant debris that has accumulated under the grass during the summer. Don’t go at it with such force, though, that you remove healthy grass along with everything else.

Aerate the soil. Fall is the perfect time to aerate the soil so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can reach grass roots easily. Aerators are available for rent at garden centers, but they’re large and bulky, so consider hiring a professional for this task.

Overseed. Even if your lawn is patchy only in spots, seeding the entire lawn will ensure a healthy crop of thick grass that will fend off weeds. Now is a good time to do it because the sun isn’t blazing but the ground is still warm.

Fertilize. Give your lawn the added nutrients to grow deep roots now and to keep some in reserve for a good start in the spring.

Pre-treat for weeds. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to stop weeds from absorbing the energy to build deep root systems that will plague you later.

For a resource full of information about lawns, visit The Lawn Institute.