It’s spooky season, and fall is in full swing. Now that October is here, the care for cool-season grasses is going to slow down significantly. With that in mind, however, there are some important steps to take to begin the process of winterizing your lawn and garden. Doing a little bit of prep work will keep your lawn and soil healthy throughout the winter months and provide a much faster and better bounce back when spring finally comes around.
Feed Your Soil
If you haven’t had your soil tested yet, now is the time. The best way to do this is to find a soil testing lab near you and send samples in from different areas of your lawn and gardens. A soil testing lab will provide precise results, letting you know what your soil is lacking—they will even send a list of recommended products to fix the specific issues your lawn has (if any).
Once you have your results in, add mulch or fertilizer to your lawn and garden to correct any soil nutrient deficiencies. Fall is the perfect time to do this because the winter, especially here in Maryland, is harsh. Feeding your soil well before the first hard frost will give it time to absorb those important nutrients and remain as healthy as possible over the course of the winter. Once spring comes around, your lawn and garden will be that much healthier and require less initial maintenance.
Deal With Autumn Leaves
While many people choose to mulch or bag their leaves, there are other good options to consider. It has been shown that choosing to leave the leaves can provide significant benefits for your lawn and garden if done correctly. A thick covering of leaves will suffocate your lawn, but a light covering will actually protect and feed your lawn by providing cover during freezes and eventually breaking down and becoming active nutrients for your soil. Making soil amendments in the fall can provide much healthier soil throughout winter that is healthier in spring, and allowing leaves to break down into the soil naturally has this same benefit while providing nutrients throughout winter and at the beginning of spring.
October is the time of year to start to reduce how much water you’re giving your lawn. As the temperatures cool, evaporation slows, and you risk drowning your plants and overwatering your soil. Beginning in October, you should slow your watering down to 1 inch every 10-14 days to account for these weather changes. As always, remember to skip watering if it has rained recently. Fall is a rainy season in Maryland, so watering should be light and infrequent.
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