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Douglas County

Fall Care

by: Sharon Ashworth
      Horticulture Program Assistant 
      Douglas county Master Gardners 

Yes, it is September already. Where did the summer go? Ah well, there are plenty of fall activities to look forward to and one of them is fall lawn care. Proper fall lawn care will set you up for a lush, healthy lawn this year and next. Fall is the time to overseed or plant a new fescue lawn. Before I give you tips to keep your lawn healthy, K-State has a wonderfully detailed brochure on the what, when, and how of tall fescue lawn care.

Lawn and Lawn Mower

Care of Established Tall Fescue Lawns

  • Mowing height is 2 to 3 inches.
  • Fertilize in September and November.
  • Aerate lawn if needed and before overseeding
  • Water every other week if the weather is dry with a good soak before winter.
  • A healthy lawn is the best weed control, but if necessary, fall is the best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to control dandelions, chickweed, and henbit. See further details in Weed Control in Home Lawns.

Overseeding

  • Mow to 1.5-inch height.
  • Core aerate if soil compacted.
  • Rake (power or hand) to disturb the soil surface and remove debris.
  • Sow seed at 3-5 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. to thicken the lawn.
  • Fertilize with 1 lb. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Water in seed and fertilizer.
  • Read the label on any pre-emergent herbicides before applying to newly seeded areas.

Planting a New Lawn

  • September: Just before seeding, mix 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet into the top 2 inches of soil. Smooth soil surface, and then seed lawn. Keep seedbed constantly moist until seedlings appear.
  • October: Fertilize with a half rate of nitrogen one month after planting. Water once a week if the weather is dry.
  • November: Fertilize with 1 pound of soluble nitrogen. Soak soil thoroughly before winter.