In this post, we list the lawn care tasks that you need to do in September to get your yard ready for next year.
September is the beginning of the fall season. It may not be “officially” fall until September 22, but once the kids are back and school and the temperatures are starting to dip, then most people will consider it fall.
For those of us that have been working on our grass, yards, landscaping, and garden all summer, the work doesn’t end because the temperatures are dropping. Fall is the time that we begin the chores to get our property ready for next year.
The little bits of grass and roots in your lawn that naturally die but remain in your lawn can build up over time, creating a layer known as thatch. If the layer grows at a faster rate than it naturally breaks down, this can create a problem for your lawn health.
For cool season grass varieties that we have in Northern Illinois, September and early fall are the best times to dethatch your lawn. Your grass is growing well this time of year and your turf will benefit from a dethatching.
First, mow your lawn, and maybe even cut it a little shorter than normal. Also waiting until after a light rain or watering your lawn first can help loosen it up. Depending on how thick it is you may be able to use a standard rake or a special thatching rake.
Related: Dealing with Thatch
Aeration and Reseeding
September is usually the perfect time of year to aerate and reseed your lawn. The temperature cools but there is still plentiful sun for new grass seeds to germinate. You will usually want all of your reseeding to be done by October 15.
Make sure you get your yard cleanup and dethatching done first and then get to work laying new seed. Use either a hearty cool season seed or a lawn repair mixture containing grass seed, quick-starter fertilizer, and mulch. Water thoroughly after applying and continue watering every other day for two weeks.
Related: Why aerate your lawn?
You can continue to water and mow your lawn normally throughout the fall. When the mowing season is drawing to a close, lower your mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two time you mow for the year. That allows sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and leaves less of the grass blade to turn brown during the winter months. You may not need to do those final cuts with the mower until October or even November sometimes.
Related: Lawn mowing tips
Rake and Mulch Leaves
Some people mistakenly believe that leaves will insulate your lawn during winter. In truth, they can block sunlight, smother your grass and create patchy areas in your turf. Don’t let those leaves kill the grass you worked on over the summer. You can rake the leaves and add them to your compost or garden, and you can also mow them over to create a fine mulch for your lawn.
September is a great time to feed your lawn after the long heat and drought of summer. You can actually fertilize twice in the fall, with the first one being in early September. The early lawn fertilization in September helps your lawn roots recover from all the heat, dry conditions and heavy traffic of summer. You can then fertilize again 6-8 weeks later to get your grass to store up nutrients for winter.
Get Those Weeds
Weeds can be a constant battle but September is a great time to attach them because perennial weeds like dandelions are absorbing nutrients to prepare for winter. If you treat them with an herbicide in the fall, weeds will absorb it into their roots and not come back again next spring.
Related: Common Northern Illinois Weeds