Doug Soldat, Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soils Specialist
Department of Soil Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
3:11- Total time
0:19 – Effects in the spring
0:53 – Why fall?
1:35 – Tips for the fall
2:33 – Preparing for winter
2:58 – Lead out
Zoey Rugel: Grass in the fall. Today, we’re visiting with Doug Soldat, Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soils Specialist, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Zoey Rugel. So, Doug, what should you do in the fall to have a healthier lawn in the spring?
Doug Soldat: Yeah, fall lawn maintenance is one of the most important times to take care of your lawn for the next year. We recommend getting your last mowing in with a nice, sharp blade, mulching those leaves into the canopy, and that does a couple things. So, the grass is still green, it’s not growing very fast, but it’s still green and that means it’s taking sunlight and turning it into energy and if it’s all covered up with leaves, it’s not able to do that very effectively. So, use a mulching mower and cut those tree leaves down, get them into the canopy and that’s also been shown to reduce populations of weeds the following spring.
Zoey Rugel: Why do you need to maintain lawns in the fall?
Doug Soldat: This is a great time to maintain lawns, relative to other portions of the year, because they don’t have a lot of the stresses that they have in the summer or like in the early spring. So, it’s too late to fertilize lawns now. The last fertilization should have probably happened sometime in October at the latest, but fall is a really important time to recover from all the damages from the summer stress and if you have kids or other people using your lawn or a sports field, it tends to get worn out by the traffic and the compaction and so fall is always a really good time to address that and try to relieve that and prepare for the next season.
Zoey Rugel: How can you maintain it in the fall? What are some tips you have?
Doug Soldat: So, the best time to control weeds is in the fall. So, a lot of the times people think about weed control in the spring, because that’s when you’re excited about your lawn. In the fall you’re done with it. You don’t want to mow it and take care of it anymore, but weeds are most susceptible to herbicides in the fall. So, if you do have weeds that you’re looking to take care of, fall is a good time to address it. It’s also one of the best times to fertilize, to thicken up the lawn, and fill in any bare spots caused from the stress over the season. So, fall is one of our best times to maintain a lawn. It’s also typically a good time to seed because there are few weeds that are germinating in the fall it’s a good time to put down seed. Now, we’re too late now in Wisconsin. The best time to seed grass is going to be between August 15th and September 15th, but also you can wait until the soil freezes and do what we call a dormant seeding. Put that seed down, it will go through winter and then germinate again in the spring.
Zoey Rugel: Is there anything you can do to prepare for winter?
Doug Soldat: So, for preparing for winter, most of the grasses in Wisconsin, our lawn grasses, are done growing. Okay, so, it’s always good to get one last final mow for the season. You don’t want to mow it really short. So, sometimes I see people mowing their grass really short the last time of the year. Just keep it at your normal height, hopefully, around three inches, mulch the leaves into the canopy, get the leaves off the surface, and then you should be ready to go for next season.
Zoey Rugel: We’ve been visiting with Doug Soldat, Extension Turfgrass and Urban Soils Specialist, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Zoey Rugel.