Fall Prep for a Successful Spring

by Tisha Farris, Central Oregon Lawn Center

By August, most of us are tired of mowing our lawns and are ready for snow to fly, but there is still work to be done on your property! Consider the fact that your lawn goes dormant during winter, but that does not mean it is immune to the cold temperatures and heavy snow. Protect your lawn and irrigation system by considering the following factors.

Amendments change the dynamic of your soil and ultimately affect the overall health of your lawn. Organic fertilizers, like the ones we carry, take longer to break down and are therefore useful to the plants for a longer duration than quick release chemical fertilizers. Applying fall fertilizer is important for root development and hardiness. The purpose of fall fertilizer is to store carbohydrates in the roots over the winter so they are packed full of nutrients come spring. After the first two hard frosts of the season, grasses know to stop growing their leaf blades, but do continue to take in nutrients into their root systems and begin the process of stocking up for hibernation. Therefore, wait to apply your fall fertilizer until after the first two freezes and your grass roots will thank you in the spring. To get the fertilizer to the roots where they are most effective, core-aerate your lawn before applying.

Keep in mind, fertilizer is only useful to grasses if there is a healthy microbial (bacteria) layer in the soil. The bacteria break down the elements in the fertilizer, like Nitrogen, and turn those elements into carbohydrates the plants then use for growth. Laying out manure or compost is one way to introduce new biota into your soil layer, but can be bulky and costly. To meet this need, we have a product in our store called Bactifeed and a 0.48 oz. packet covers 5,000 square feet. Talk about bang for your buck!

If you have noticed spaces opening up across your lawn and if you want to have a lush lawn in the spring, you will want to get a head start by over-seeding in the fall. Over-seeding is most effective in cooler weather, this allows for the seed to stay moist without as much pressure from the hot summer sun. An added benefit of waiting until the fall is that you are not allowing spring weeds a chance to propagate in the spaces that would have otherwise been left open. If you do choose this route, you will need to watch the weather forecast and plan your planting accordingly. A freeze will kill any seed that has not taken root and fully germinated. You want to keep the seed moist for at least two weeks through the germination period, one month is optimal, but you will also want to protect your irrigation system from freezing as we near the winter months. The best time to start an over seed project in Central Oregon is around early to mid-September. To summarize, over-seeding in the fall, along with the combination of fall fertilizer and Bactifeed, gives your whole lawn its best chance come the following spring.

In addition to applying additives to your soil, blowing out your sprinkler system is a must come mid-October, or just before the first set of freezes occur. After the first few freezes, the ground begins to harden deeper and deeper until it no longer thaws during the daylight hours. This is a critical time for your sprinkler systems if they are still full of water. If you desire the professional touch, contact us within that same timeframe as we start blowing out systems the last week of October and into November, weather depending. The sooner we start getting cold outside the sooner we push to get blowouts done — and we recommend you do the same.

www.centraloregonlawncenter.com

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