This is the time to prepare your grass for the dormant season. This means that your grass will no long spread out and fill in thin areas, so don’t do anything that can cause damage. This includes excessive core aeration or dethatching. Save that for spring. If you need to fill in an area of open ground, use sod in early October so it has time to root into the ground. Anytime later and you are likely to have dormant sod sitting on top of your soil until the following spring.
Switch your fertilizer away from high nitrogen varieties. Nitrogen promotes growth and your grass is finished growing for the year. You will only fertilize weeds and fungus if you apply high nitrogen fertilizers now. Instead, fall lawn care requires the use of fertilizer that contains a lot of potassium and low nitrogen. The potassium will help fortify the grass against winter damage so it will look better next spring.
A lot of your summer weeds will die off soon until next year, but winter brings its own set of weeds. Most winter weeds are not as problematic as summer weeds. They do stick out like a sore thumb since they are green in a lawn of winter yellow. Apply a pre-emergent now that targets winter weeds so those weed seeds never even have the chance to grow. Read the product label and follow it.
There are some bugs that can cause problems in fall. Both sod webworms and army worms can cause a lot of damage quickly. Look for grass that has bite marks and for small moths flying out of the grass when you mow. If you see these signs, treat the area with a product labeled for your grass type and the worms mentioned. Sometimes these insects have already laid their eggs, so you will need to check and see if the problem returns in a couple weeks and retreat as necessary.
Fall is the time for lawn fungus. You may have noticed mushrooms in your flower beds already. Circular yellow-brown rings in your lawn are a sure sign of fungus. Brown patch and take-all patch are the usual culprits around south Louisiana. These two fungi can cause some real damage to your yard if left untreated. If you notice the circular pattern in your yard, get some fungicide from the hardware store and treat it early. The area inside the circle is most likely dead already, so you are simply trying to prevent the patch from spreading further. These areas will be thin next spring and primed for weeds to take hold. If you have had a problem in the past with these fungi, we recommend applying preventative fungicide treatments every two weeks during October.
Are you tired of looking at a drab yard during the winter? If you would like some green grass this cool season, October is when you want to spread out some rye grass seed. This cool season grass will look great in the winter and will die off on its own when the weather warms up. If you decide to do this, make sure your pre-emergent does not prevent rye seed from germinating. This is a common mistake which causes people to waste their time and money since they are killing the seed they want to grow. There are a few varieties of rye seed. Look for one that stays low as it grows. You will get the benefit of green grass without the need to cut it during the winter.