Late fall is one of the best times to fertilize a lawn. One final dose of fertilizer before the cold weather strikes is good for strengthening roots and increasing the nitrogen stored for an earlier spring green; while the top growth of the grass stops, all energy is reserved for the following season. The specific time of day you fertilize depends on the current weather conditions, and fertilizer should not be applied if rain is in the immediate 24-hour forecast.
To quickly spread fertilizer, consider a tow-behind spreader attached to your riding lawn mower or garden tractor. An attachment, such as a pull-typespin spreader from John Deere, can help you evenly distribute fertilizer much faster than you can with a push cart or hand-held bucket.
Aerating is ideal in cooler months for removing plugs of soil and thatch from a lawn. It encourages deep rooting, improves water and nutrient penetration, helps break down thatch and promotes growth of beneficial soil microorganisms. In place of spiked shoes or spray-on liquids, options includes plugaerators, spike aerators and thatcherators that easily attach behind a tractor and removes plugs of soil from two to three-inches deep.
If you prefer not to rake or bag grass or leaves, mulching is an ideal alternative. Lawn mowers, like the John Deere Select Series X310 have available mulching attachments that can be installed easily without tools. Be sure to mulch leaves only when they are dry since mulching wet or damp leaves can cause build up under the deck or clumping . Remember that grass needs sunlight in the fall to help store food for winter, so be careful when mulching this time of year. A thin layer of mulched leaves will do and helps add nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer.
Creating a compost pile allows you to take advantage of decomposedorganic material to create a rich soil. The fall season is a good time to create a compost pile with decaying matter throughout the yard, like vegetables, grass clippings and leaves, which contain the nutrients necessary to add nitrogen the soil needs for planting come spring. Be sure to alternate layers of “brown material,” or high carbon materials, with your grass clippings.
Using a rearbagger with your lawn mower or tractor will help make collecting grass clippings a breeze. You can also collect materials with a blade or shovel to easily and efficiently create your compost pile. When winter strikes, you can use these attachments to plow, pick up and transport snow.
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