This is the time of the year when we are doing cleanups around the garden. Today I am cutting back grasses and perennials. This is also the time when most people are wondering when to stop mowing the lawn. After maintaining lawns and gardens for the past 12 years, I learned that grass will stop growing when the air temperature falls below 40 degrees. By then, the soil temperature is too cold for the microbes in the soil to be active, and the grass and plants stop growing. In New England is that happens around mid November.
Fall is the most important part of the year. This is the time when you have to re-seed your lawn and fertilize so you can have a healthy yard next Spring.
Winter Lawn Care
These are some of the things that I do in early Fall:
- Re-seed early in mid September or early October. This depends on your location. My rule is to apply seed on the lawn when the day temperature is still warm in the lower 70’s. I also want to make sure that the night temperate is above 50 degrees. The window of opportunity is small. Usually 3 weeks, so make sure you look at the long range forecast for your area.
- Fertilize. The primary purpose is to feed the microbes. And those microbes will be only active for a few more weeks before they go dormant. The plants will grow, as long as the microbes are active and the soil temperature is still warm.
- Compost and Compost Tea. This is a great way to increase the organic matter content in the soil, as well as the introduction of additional microbes in the soil by using compost tea.
- Water. Irrigate by hand or using a sprinkler system until the grass seed germinates. This means there is no need to irrigate the lawn heavily. As long as the soil is moist, the grass seed should germinate.
- Mow. This is probably the most important thing to do this time of the year. Decrease the mowing height gradually from now until the end of the season. It means you will start mowing from 3″ down to 1-1.5″ last time you mow this year. In other words, when to stop mowing the lawn is all weather dependent. The warmer it gets, the more times you will have to mow.
- Mulch those Fall leaves. Mulched leaves add organic matter and fertilize your lawn and garden.