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My Most Important Late Fall Lawn Tip

November 7, 2014

Tree leaves are all over your lawn. It’s getting cold. You’ve had a frost. Maybe you’ve even had some snow flurries. Here’s a little known lawn secret:   Rather than raking your tree leaves, save time by mowing them to dime size just prior to feeding.  If you have a Bluegrass, Fescue or Ryegrass lawn, your grass roots are still growing in the soil that is warmer than air temperatures.  Even if you’ve already fed this fall, this means you can really help your lawn by giving it a feeding right now with Turf Builder WinterGuard while you are dealing with your tree leaves.  So put on your gloves and ear muffs and get out your lawn mower and lawn spreader, and feed your lawn.

Rather than raking your tree leaves, save time by mowing them to dime size just prior to feeding. This will help them “compost on your lawn”.

Rather than raking your tree leaves, save time by mowing them to dime size just prior to feeding. This will help them “compost on your lawn”.

You won’t be alone. The expert turf researchers will be doing the same thing with their lawns. In Ohio, Ohio State turf experts say you should get your last winterizing feeding down by the middle of November. In Virginia, the Virginia Tech agronomists say you have until the first of December to get your last feeding down. So, even if you are in the far north, this coming weekend is not too late to get your lawn fed.

One last bit of advice. If you’ve got weeds and want to spread Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed instead of Turf Builder WinterGuard, your mid-day temps need to still reach 60 degrees the day you apply. Apply to moist foliage on a day when no rain is forecasted for 24 hours. (There is no minimum temperature restriction for Turf Builder WinterGuard without weed control as long as your ground is not frozen.)

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14 Comments
  1. Dave permalink

    Hi Ashton, it’s Dave from northern KY again. I have treated, aerated, and over seeded with starter fertilizer. I will be doing my fall winter guard feeding next weekend.
    My grass in the backyard is thick and really green. My front yard is really green and it wowed my neighbor and I when I cut it last. The thing is that the grass is sort of flat or lazy. What I mean is that it is not thick or standing up like my backyard or other thick lawns I see. It’s not as thick as I would like.

    • Hi Dave
      Glad to hear about your results. New grass plants look different from older grass plants even if they are the same species and variety. Your mix of old and new may be different in your front and back lawn. This difference tends to go away over time. The other thing that can make a difference in growth is if one area is more shaded, this can make the grass elongate more between mowings as it stretches to get more light. Sometimes it tends to lean in the direction of the light making it seem to lay down. Your next feeding and mowing it at 2-1/2 to 3 inches should help make it thicker. Good luck with your lawn.

  2. Dave permalink

    Hi Ashton, Dave, Northern KY again, one more question before I pack it up for the winter. How late can I keep watering? I have rain forcasted for tomorrow with a high of 64. Then we will be in the high 30’s and low 40’s for the rest of the week.

  3. Hi Dave
    You should be able to scale back your watering now. If you do not get appreciable rain over the next week or so, you may want to water a time or two before you are consistently in cold weather. If you planted any shrubs or trees this fall, you should make sure they do not go into the winter in a dry condition.

  4. Rick permalink

    Hi Aston, they say to mow lower for winter to help avoid snow molds, last year I mowed slightly lower (2″) then usual and had killing molds that needed the reseeding of some fairly large areas, this was the first time I had mold kill areas the turf. Do you think this was related to the long hard winter of last season, coincidence, or cutting to low on my part?…can you share your secrets with us. Thank you

    • Hi Rick
      The final mowing of the year should be around 2-1/2 inches on cool-season grass lawns (bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue). Your snow mold got going under heavy snow cover during the warm up days of early spring. The problem is especially worse on low lawn areas or piles where the snow may be slower to melt. The key thing is to rake the areas as soon as you can in early spring to remove the matted grass that is stuck together so air and sunlight can get to the crown of the grass plant (the crown is where the leave blades begin to emerge at the soil level).

  5. Ryan Garrett permalink

    Hello, I read your blog and have been mulching leaves vs bagging. Its alot easier and yard still looks great. My last Scotts lawnservice treatment of year was done yesterday and they did a 46-0-0 application, basically straight Nitrogen. Will this break down the leaves that I am mulching or do I need to apply the Winterguard that you recommend? Also, is it still ok to mow lawn and mulch leaves when nights are in low 20s? Thanks so much for your time and blog.

    • Hi Ryan Garrett
      That last feeding will do the trick as high nitrogen is the key to help break down the leaves you have chopped up. The organisms that help do the job depend on having nitrogen available. As long as your day time temps are getting into the 50’s you should keep this process going even if your night time temps are getting into the 20’s. They will break down at a slower rate however.

  6. wirehead70 permalink

    Hi Ashton I live in southern va. and started a new scotts tall fescue lawn in sept and it has looked good till this week we have had 2 frost.I am starting to see some yellow tips and full yellow blades is this normal?On nov 24 I will apply the 2nd round of the WinterGuard and maybe cut it down to 3 inches.I took a couple HQ pictures if you would like to see.Thanks for your time.

    • Hi wirehead70 (I like your name):
      From your description I am not worried about your new grass. Keep on your plan!

  7. Joe F permalink

    Ashton, all my leaves are finally cleaned up. I live on Long Island and I want to know if it is okay to spread winter guard fall weed & feed? Temps are high 40’s-low 50’s and no rain until Monday. Please let me know your thoughts.

  8. Hi Joe F
    Yes, you can feed your lawn Turf Builder WinterGuard now.

  9. Joe permalink

    Turf builder winterguard or winterguard fall weed & feed?

  10. Hi Joe
    If you have lots of weeds use Turf Builder WinterGuard Weed & Feed. If no weeds or just a few, use Turf Builder WinterGuard. If you only have a few weeds you could spot treat them with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX.

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