Fall Lawn Care | How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

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  • Fall Lawn Care
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    Tom:       Where home solutions live, this is the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler-

    Leslie:    And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Tom:       Well, if you’re looking forward to having a beautiful green lawn in spring the first chance you have to make sure that happens is now because not only is fall the perfect time to plant a new lawn, or reseed the one you already have, fall’s also the time to get your lawn ready to face the long winter ahead.

    Leslie :   For the step-by-step on how to do just that we welcome Art Cockett, a lawn care expert with Bonide. Bonide’s been providing lawn and garden solutions for the past 80 years. So, Art, is fall lawn care something people often really just forget about?

    Art:          Well, first of all thank you Leslie and Tom for having me on. Yes, people sometimes overlook the fall lawn care and, if you ask me, it’s actually the beginning of the year, the way I look at it. Sorta like a fiscal year. Now’s the time to get started to have a good lawn for next year.

    Tom:       So what’s the first thing you need to do if you’re … you know, a lot of us are just sort-of enjoying the remaining pleasant days of weather here before it really starts to get super cold and, of course, the winter comes in. What should we be doing right now to kinda determine the right steps to take because I think lawn care is something that folks get confused about, especially when it comes to deciding what products you need to apply to it to get rid of the weeds and to make sure that your lawn is well fed to survive the months ahead?

    Art:          Well, the first thing I suggest is to assess the situation and determine just what your goals need to be. Whether it’s a question of if seeding is necessary, if you have bare spaces, or if you have a lot of crabgrass that is getting ready to go away for the winter. Of course, it dies out soon, or if you just simply need to take care of a few weeds, or just normal maintenance, fertilization, that type of thing. So it’s really a question of just how bad a shape your lawn is in, and then we would go from there.

    Leslie:    Well, I think a lot of people just assume that springtime is the growing season, and that’s when you should do any seeding if the lawn’s in bad shape or has been in bad shape from the previous summer. But should you be doing that now so it’s got the winter to kind of take root?

    Art:          Yeah, actually fall is the best time to plant grass seed because the soil temperatures are warmer, and the seed will germinate sooner, and get established more quickly, and it’s the time of year that the roots like to grow. So a lot of people do seed in the spring, and frankly fall is a much better time. Soil temperatures, as I mentioned, but moisture availability, it’s really the right time to plant grass seed is in the fall.

    Leslie:    Art, if you do need to seed, I mean I imagine there’s probably the right seed for the right situation, and it’s probably difficult to figure out what that seed is. How do you know which seed to put down on your property?

    Art:          Well, it’s really not that hard. You can trust Bonide because we have all the best grass seed varieties in our different mixes, and we have the appropriate grass types that are in our full sun, sun and shade, dense shade, and we also have high traffic grass seed, and a heat and drought grass seed mixture for difficult situations and when moisture is an issue. So it’s not too hard to pick the right grass seed because we have the right mixtures there. Our grass seed varieties are second to none. We’ve bred them for color, texture, disease resistance, rapid establishment, and so on, so that it’s top-notch grass seed. It’s not too hard to pick it out and go from there. After that it’s a matter of soil prep, and proper seed-to-soil contact, and making sure the grass seed is in contact with the soil. If you need to cover it with something like a peat moss or a straw to hold moisture you’ll have much more success.

    Tom:       Art, let me ask you the same question about the weed killer products that are out there. There are so many different weed killers that are available, and there are different formulas. Some are granule, some are liquid, what do you recommend at Bonide for weed killer.

    Art:          Well, I’m glad you asked that. For this time of year, as we’re getting towards the cooler temperatures, Bonide has a product that is unique on the market called Weed Beater Ultra, and it works down to 45 degrees. Most of the broadleaf weed killers out there need 65 degree weather and rapidly growing weeds. This time of year, as the weeds are not growing as quickly, and the temperatures are lower, the Weed Beater Ultra will do a great job. The other selling point to it is that it will … you can seed within two weeks after you use it. So other products you have to wait a lot longer, so really you can get some weeds killed now and whenever you kill weeds you have to be sure to plant some grass seed soon before the next generation of weeds grow in because there’s always weed seeds waiting to get going. So the Weed Beater Ultra is a liquid. I’d recommend that one as the temperatures cool off.

    We also have a weed and feed if you want to kill two birds with one stone and fertilize while you kill weeds. Then we have a straight lawn weed killer granule, okay. So that one has no fertilizer in it, and the two granular products work best if the lawn in moist in the morning and has a chance to stick to the weeds. So we have whatever anyone wants to put it down, whether they prefer to go with a granule and put it in the fertilizer spreader, or if they would prefer to spray we have the Weed Beater Ultra in a little trigger sprayer, or a hose end sprayer, or you can put it in your own sprayer, pump up type, what have you. So whatever’s easier for the homeowner to do, either one will get the job done.

    Tom:       Talking to Art Cockett, he’s a lawn care expert with Bonide. Art, what is it that folks usually get wrong when it comes to lawn care?

    Art:          Well, there’s a lot of things I suppose. Simple things as lawn mowing height, and how often they mow. You should mow your lawn no more than 1/3 of the amount of grass at a time, the length. Then cut it to a good tall three inches or so. Most people like to mow it too short, and that makes more opportunity for weed seeds to get a good start. So I think the number one thing that seems so simple is proper mowing.

    Tom:       Yeah, that’s because they want to try to spread out the time between those mowings, but that’s just really a short thinking right there because you’re gonna have a very unhealthy and very weedy lawn if you keep cutting it down to nubs, right?

    Art:          That’s right and more frequent mowing is definitely the way to go. You don’t want to let it get too tall and then mow it, and it’s much healthier to mow it more often and just take a little bit off at a time.

    Leslie:    So now if fall really is the time to seed is it also the time to fertilize even if you don’t need seeding?

    Art:          Absolutely, so if your lawn is in good shape, and you don’t need to seed then right now is the time, coming up here, to use Bonide’s winterizer, which is a fertilizer for fall that gets the plants prepared for spring, and so you have an early spring green up next year. But if you are gonna plant grass seed you’ve got to be sure to use a starter fertilizer, which is a different type of fertilizer that encourages roots instead of the top growth. If you are gonna seed as we said now’s the time, but there are proper steps to go through.

    Tom:       Now you have, at your website, bonide.com. It’s B-O-N-I-D-E.com, you have a tool called the Bonide Problem Solver. I took a look at it. This is very, very handy because folks do get confused, but if they go and use that tool they can get a real good sense as to what might be going on with their lawn. I see you also have an ask the experts feature, so if folks really have questions that are not covered can they write you?

    Art:          Absolutely. Go on our website, and there’s a few ways to contact us, but that problem solver is a great way to check things out for yourself. It’s not just about lawns. What it does is it helps to diagnose problems, and then from there it helps with the solutions to all the problems. That includes insects in the garden, or in the lawn, and several different applications that the problem solver has.

    Tom:       Well, Art, thank you so much for taking some time with us today. I think this is a really important topic. Folks, gotta get out there and get those lawns ready right now to survive the winter ahead, get the seed planted, get that fertilizer going. Let’s take care of the weeds because next spring, believe me, you will thank us for that advice. Art Cockett with Bonide, thank you so much for stopping by the Money Pit.

    Art:          Thank you very much Tom and Leslie thank you as well.

    Tom:       And if you’d like more information, again, go to their website bonide.com, B-O-N-I-D-E.com, and be sure to check out Bonide’s Problem Solver right there on bonide.com.


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