Continue to water lawns deeply once a week if there is no rain.
Keep mowing as long as the grass continues to grow. Set the mower height so cut grass is between 2 ½” and 3 ½”; mow again when grass is 4” tall. Taller grass results in deeper roots that are more drought tolerant and can better resist the winter cold.
Fall is the most important time to feed your lawn. Most good fall fertilizers are slow-acting, made to react to temperature and moisture. They help the lawn recover from the summer’s heat and drought, and remain in the soil to be available for that great green-up first thing in the spring.
There is still time to apply herbicides to kill perennial weeds such as Dandelion, Plantain and Creeping Charlie in your lawn. Broad leaved weeds are more easily killed as they withdraw nutrients from their leaves for the winter. The grass will continue to root into any bare spots for several weeks yet.
Don’t let piles of whole leaves remain on the lawn. These tend to mat together and smother grass, resulting in a thin, weedy lawn in the spring. Instead, mulch leaves into tiny pieces and let them remain scattered on the lawn as winter food or rake and add to your compost. The compost can be returned to the lawn as a top dressing in the spring.
If your lawn is long established and compacted, you may want to aerate now. Your lawn will recover from this process best in the early fall. Cut the lawn short before aerating. Wait until early June to dethatch.
Core aeration removes finger sized plugs from the lawn, opening up the soil. Be sure the machine you use removes a plug that is deep enough to go entirely through the thatch layer and several inches into the soil. This process will reduce compaction and improve drainage. Leave the plugs to decompose into the lawn.
With just a little care, you can enjoy that lush green lawn this fall and next spring too!