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Autumn Turf Maintenance

posted on September 8, 2016

As the days become noticeably shorter and cooler, our yards are sometimes neglected as we become distracted by fieldwork, football and pumpkin-spice treats. Other than mowing and occasionally raking away leaves, we may be tempted to postpone lawn duties until next spring. In fact, the period from late summer through late fall is one of the best times to ensure that turfgrasses bounce back greener and thicker the following spring.

Below are several steps which we can take during those bright, crisp autumn days to improve and preserve the health and appearance of lawn grasses.

Fall seeding

Seeding: Fall is a great time to seed new lawns or over-seed thin turf for three reasons:
  • Warm soil enables the grass seed to germinate quickly,
  • Warm days and cool nights are ideal growing conditions for cool-season grasses, and
  • New grass will encounter significantly
In northern areas of the United States, the sowing of grass seed can begin in late summer. Ideally, the new grass should have about 6 – 8 weeks to become established before the onset of cold weather. Southern areas of the U.S. can sow grass later in the season.

To help grass seedlings with all-important root growth, coat the seed with CULBAC® Green Seed Treatment prior to planting. The recommended application rate for this product is 4 ounces per 50 lbs. of turfgrass seed.

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Raking Away Debris

When many people think of fall, they think of colorful foliage. But when those crimson and gold leaves flutter down from the branches onto lawns, they block sunlight which the grass requires to help build its energy reserves for the long winter. Therefore, it is important to clear away leaves and other debris from lawns to provide the turf with maximum exposure to sunlight.


Annual aerating of lawns is an important means for reducing thatch build-up and soil compaction in turfgrasses. For best results, aerate in early fall.

Weed Control

Autumn is the best time of the year to apply herbicide for controlling perennial weeds. In spring, perennial plants are transporting energy from the roots to foliage, rendering them more resilient to foliar-applied herbicides. However, in fall the very opposite takes place: perennial weeds transport carbohydrates from the foliage to the roots. As result, the weeds readily absorb foliar-applied herbicide, send this to their root system and die. Herbicide applications are especially effective late in the season just before the weeds enter dormancy.

Fertilizer and Biostimulant Application

Just as spring applications of fertilizers and biostimulants can help lawns weather the summer heat, adequate fertilizer and a boost from biostimulants in the autumn can help turfgrasses survive the rigors of winter.

CULBAC® Plant Solution is a biostimulant that is proven to help plants—especially turfgrasses—overcome stress and perform their best. For best results, apply CULBAC® Plant Solution at the rate of 10 fl. oz. per acre (1 fl. oz. per 5,000 ft2) either in late summer or early fall while the grass is actively growing.

Fertilizers can be applied once or twice during the autumn season, depending on a lawn’s needs. A late season application of nitrogen (0.75 – 1 lbs. per 1,000 ft2) is especially helpful for turfgrasses.

By following these tips, anyone can optimize their lawn’s health for the following spring. If further motivation is needed, these steps can be view as constructive ways for us to burn off those excess calories we will accumulate from pumpkin-spice treats.

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