October is a great month to renovate and improve your lawn. If you planned on seeding this fall, September would have been the absolute best time to seed but then October is the next best time to apply grass seed. Let’s explore why this is so.
The first frost tends to arrive in early October in many areas like the Disney character Elsa singing in Frozen, “Let it go…” October frost is a sad reminder that winter is soon around the corner, but this first frost can also be viewed as good news because it kills any existing crabgrass in your lawn. Crabgrass likes hot, dry, sunny weather so when Mother Nature produces frost, crabgrass leaves start to turn purple and then eventually to brown straw-like spider leg runners a few weeks later. These crabgrass plants can be raked and the soil loosened producing nice mulch to seed into. Be sure to create good seed-to-soil contact for best results.
Cool nights and rainy days help grow newly sowed grass seed. What about soil temperature? All summer long the sun has been beating down on the ground making it warm. Grass roots will grow deep into the soil so you can establish a strong stand of grass before next summer’s drought. Don’t worry; the first frost will not stop newly seeded grass seed from growing vigorously!
Did you get a soil test done on your property? Why are you spending a lot of money on lawn supplies if your soil does not have the correct soil pH value to grow grass vigorously? Grass likes a soil pH range of 6.2 to 6.8. Apply calcium Mag-I-Cal to raise soil pH or elemental sulfur based products to lower soil pH. What about finally correcting any drainage problems? If you have wet, low spots consider filling them in with proper grading. Be sure if you introduce any new topsoil; do not just spread it on the top of your yard, do your best to mix the new soil into the existing soil to creating better quality soil deep down.
Core aeration or thatching is best done in the fall NOT the spring. This is because many weeds have been through their life cycle. Aeration and thatching will disturb the soil profile and a lot more weeds tend to establish in the spring than the fall competing with the newly planted grass for growing space. Maybe you need to rent a slit-seeder to create a better environment for the grass to grow? This type of machine slices through any existing grass or dead thatch placing the seed nicely into rows right in the soil. Remember, we need good seed-to soil contact for optimum seeding results. Share the trip to the Rental store with a neighbor or two to reduce rental costs.
If you did not apply any fertilizer in September, apply Winter Survival in October. If you did apply fertilizer in September, you can apply a Winter Survival late in October or early November for best grass grow-in results. This helps prepare the lawn for the cold winter months ahead so it can survive and also to green-up your lawn next spring.
It’s not too late to start to create good lawn sanitation conditions. As you go into late fall mowing, remember to slowly reduce your mowing height and remove clippings and leaves on the lawn in order to reduce the chance of snow mold damage. As pine needles drop remove them so you do not smother the good grass and to reduce their soil acidifying effect on the soil pH.
I know football season is in full swing but your lawn is here forever. If you want to take a few months off from doing anything on your lawn please choose the winter months not October!