Winterizing your northern lawn in the fall is the key to a lush, beautiful lawn in the spring. You want the lawn to be ready to go as soon as the weather warms up in the spring and the time to get it ready is in the fall before cold weather sets in.
In the fall, apply a winterizing fertilizer that is high in potassium to stimulate healthy root growth. This will help keep the lawn healthy through the winter and get it ready to start growing as soon as temperatures rise in the spring. Be careful not to fertilize too late in the season. You might encourage the lawn to keep growing into early winter leaving it susceptible to damage due to freezing weather.
Lower the mower height by about half an inch to an inch for the last mowings of the season to avoid matting. Rake leaves as soon as they fall. You don’t want to leave the lawn buried under a layer of wet leaves covered with snow all winter. By the time the snow melts off, the wet leaf layer will have smothered the grass.
Fall is a good time to aerate and dethatch the yard. Soil becomes compacted over the summer from use and a thorough aerating it now loosens up the soil and gives water and nutrients time to seep into the soil before freezing weather sets in. Core aeration is the preferred way to aerate your lawn. Dethatching the lawn removes the layer of dead grass, old clipping, and other debris that has accumulated during the summer. It allows air and water to reach the soil and helps prevent moisture from accumulating at the base of the lawn which can promote lawn diseases.
With a little work in the fall, your lawn will be ready for a full growing season when spring arrives.