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Fall Lawn Care & Maintenance
    You’ve been mowing, fertilizing, and edging your lawn all summer long, but now the days are getting shorter. Should your lawn care practices change as the weather gets cooler? Absolutely. With different temperatures come different methods of care. You may need to use a different type of fertilizer, overseed in specific areas, or combat falling leaves. Luckily, we’re here to help with both fall maintenance tips and where to locate the tools needed to keep your lawn healthy throughout the season. It can be tempting to skip the fall lawn care schedule outlined, or opt for the easier tasks, but with the help of a few rental items you can accomplish them with ease — and enjoy the winter knowing your lawn will come back to life beautifully in the spring.  Aerate Aerating your lawn every two-to-three years improves yard drainage and overall root health. The process pulls out plugs of soil to allow water, air, and nutrients easier access to the roots. It’s a great DIY weekend project that will result in a more lush, nutrient-dense lawn. Rental stores carry a variety of types of aerators to fit all budgets and needs, from manual walk-behind aerators to aerators towed behind a tractor.  Mulch Leaves Fallen leaves are beautiful to look at, but they won’t do your grass any favors. A blanket of leaves on your lawn blocks sunlight and traps in moisture, two things your lawn isn’t accustomed to. Rake up the majority of leaves as often as possible, then occasionally, mow over them to mulch them into smaller pieces. Large amounts of whole leaves aren’t beneficial for your lawn, but a select amount of mulched leaves break down much easier. Using fertilizer right after mulching will also speed up the decomposition.  Another way to mulch leaves is to rent a leaf blower/vacuum. This is especially helpful if large amounts of leaves pile up in hard-to-rake areas, such as flower beds. Leaf blowers/vacuums suck up the leaves and mulch them into small pieces, providing the same result that mowing over leaves provides. To finish the task, open the bag and evenly spread the mulched leaves across your lawn.  Fertilize  Fertilize twice throughout the fall season, once at the beginning of the fall to boost grass root growth, and again 6-8 weeks later to provide the grass nutrients to last through the winter. If you don’t have a spreader, rent one at your local rental store instead of spreading it by hand. Using a spreader ensures the fertilizer is distributed equally and won’t harm the grass as concentrated amounts can. The best fall lawn fertilizer to use depends on which issues your lawn is facing. If weeds are present, a weed and feed fertilizer will provide the benefits of nutrients and eliminate stubborn weed growth. Another option is a fertilizer made specifically for the last application before winter, which will prep your lawn for a healthy spring. Overseed Sparse lawns allow the space for weeds to thrive, but overseeding eliminates that opportunity. Overseeding is the action of spreading seed throughout your grass to increase the density and thickness of the entire lawn. Fall is the best time to overseed due to milder temperatures and abundant moisture.  As simple as it sounds, overseeding is actually one of the more challenging fall lawn treatment tasks. Grass seed needs to come into contact with the soil and have the right amount of moisture to germinate. Timing is also an important factor. The seeds need to germinate and be well established before it gets too cold for new growth to thrive. You can consider renting a gas-powered overseeder to assist in the process and make fast work of the task.  Equipment Maintenance After completing your fall yard maintenance, it’s time to pay attention to your tools. A quick clean-up and maintenance session once a year will keep them in great shape. Most tools can simply be cleaned and stored, but some may require more effort before winter storage. The largest task will be your lawn mower maintenance and storage prep. First, add fuel stabilizer to the remaining gas in the tank, then run the mower until the gas is gone. Doing this will clean the lines and prevent any engine-related issues come spring. It’s also a good idea to remove the blade to get it sharpened, drain the engine oil, and clear any debris from the deck.  When you rent tools instead of buying them, you can skip the maintenance and storage component completely. For those who have minimal storage, don’t want to think about maintenance, or simply don’t like clutter, renting is a no-brainer.  Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products to help you complete these fall maintenance tasks. You might also have lawn care needs outside of fall maintenance that require tools such as a stump grinder, dethatcher, or skid steer loader. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above. Frequently Asked Questions When should I fertilize my lawn in the fall? Fertilize two different times during the fall — once at the start of the season, and once 6-8 weeks later.  Should you leave your grass long or short in the fall? Cut your grass slightly shorter in the fall than in the summer, around 2 ½ to 3 inches. If it gets too long, it will be more susceptible to fungi, and if it’s cut too short, it won’t withstand the winter temperatures as well.  Should I leave grass clippings on the lawn? Similar to the way mulched leaves can benefit a lawn, so can grass clippings. Unless the grass is overgrown when you mow, skip bagging the clippings and let them add nutrients to your lawn instead.