COVID-19 Response

For information about fall semester instruction and campus operations, please visit

During this time, please contact us at

Fall lawn care tips – audio

Doug Soldat, Assistant Professor
Department of Soil Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-3631

Lawn care is a year round task. Doug Soldat tells us how to prepare our lawns for this fall.

3:00 – Total Time

0:17 – Basic fall lawn care important
0:32 – Why fall lawn care is important
0:55 – Seeding, fertilizer, weed control
1:25 – Best grass varieties
2:06 – Soil test for fertility needs
2:50 – Lead out



Sevie Kenyon: Doug what should lawn owners be thinking about here as they go into late summer early fall?

Doug Soldat: This is the most important time for making good progress on your lawn. Most people think spring is the time to go and put the fertilizer down, and get things looking good, but actually fall is the best time to do lawn care.

Sevie Kenyon: Doug can you tell us why it’s so important in the fall?

Doug Soldat: Fall is a time where there’s not a lot of weeds germinating. You have these really nice, warm, sunny days, and the nighttime temperatures get really low. And that allows the plant to make a lot of sugar, make a lot of food, and start growing really rapidly and recovering from any damage that had happened during the year.

Sevie Kenyon: And Doug what kinds of things should people do if they’re going to care for their lawns this fall?

Doug Soldat: It’s a really important time to start thinking about putting seed down. The optimum timeline for seeding is August 15th through September 15th. It’s also a perfect time to think about fertilizing your lawn. Finally it is also the best time for weed control. And the window for weed control extends until about the first hard frost, is about the time that we recommend we do a lot of good broad leaf weed control.

Sevie Kenyon: and Doug let’s talk about seeds for a minute, are there certain varieties that you recommend?

Doug Soldat: There’s not a perfect grass for every situation We have a handful of grasses that work better or worse in certain spots. Kentucky Bluegrass is probably the most common, the most widely used grass; it’s a grass that I really like. The issue with Kentucky Bluegrass is it doesn’t do well in shade, and it also takes three weeks to germinate from seed. For shady area, we recommend Fine Fescue. And the Fine Fescues include grasses like Creeping Red Fescue, Shootings Fine Fescue, and Hard Fescue. And my favorite of those three is Shootings Fescue; a very very nice variety of the fine fescue.

Sevie Kenyon: Doug what can you tell us about fertilizer for the fall season?

Doug Soldat: We like to have a soil test to determine our phosphorus and potassium needs. Often, there is no need for phosphorus in those situations, but you only know that for sure if you have a soil test. Same thing for potassium. So nitrogen is the main nutrient that we’re interested in getting down. That’s what creates the leaf growth that allows the grass to make more sugar and to fill into the bare spots and creep into the bare spots. Ideally we’d put down a fertilizer with a mix of quick release and slow release. So look for that key word— slow release nitrogen, on the bag. And ideally it would have at least thirty percent, hopefully maybe closer to fifty percent slow release nitrogen, which will feed the plant through that fall season.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Doug Soldat, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.