Just because summer is coming to a close doesn’t mean you can slack off on lawn care. Fall is the most crucial time to give your grass extra attention. Follow these four tips if you want your grass to stay green and thrive next year. Here are a few tips for fall lawn maintenance.

1. Fall Lawn Maintenance: Keep Mowing

Grass continues to grow throughout the fall, so don’t put away the lawn mower just yet. Mow as needed when the grass starts to get tall. Adjust the blade a little higher than usual—about 2.5 to 3 inches—to prevent cutting too short, damaging the grass, and making it more susceptible to disease. Once the grass stops growing (usually around early November), you can give your mower a well-deserved break.

2. Fertilize in Early Fall

Fertilizing in the fall helps the grass recover from the stresses of summer and prepares it for winter dormancy. Look for fertilizers high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus. Ask your local garden center if you’re unsure what type to purchase. Apply it according to the package directions, and be careful not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can be harmful to the lawn. Water the fertilizer into the soil to prevent burning the grass.

3. Fall Lawn Maintenance: Aerate Compacted Soil

The soil may be compacted if your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic. Aerating loosens the dirt and allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots – crucial for a healthy lawn. You can either aerate by hand using an aeration tool or rent a power aerator from a garden center or home improvement store. Depending on the size of your lawn, this is a job you may only need to do every one to three years.

4. Reseed Bare Patches

Even if you take good care of your lawn, there are bound to be a few bare patches here and there. The best time to seed those areas is in early fall when conditions are cool and moist, but some warmth remains in the ground to promote germination.

Use quality grass seed appropriate for your region and spread it at the rate recommended on the package. Applying too much seed can do more harm than good by crowding out existing grass plants. Once seeded, water regularly (twice daily if possible) until new growth appears. Then cut back to once daily until seedlings are established enough that they don’t dry out overnight. You can then return to your regular watering schedule (typically once or twice weekly, depending on your local climate).

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