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5 Steps to a Better Lawn Next Year

by Jon Nunan

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Those in the know will tell you, fall and early winter are the best times to start thinking about next year's lawn. If you've always wanted the best lawn on the block, here are our picks for the best lawn enhancements you can start today.

1. Apply Fertilizer
Saveatree.com tells us, "By fertilizing your lawn this fall, you will be making an investment in your lawn's root system that will reap considerable returns." While many might regard cold weather fertilizing as "overkill," 2 or 3 applications between September and December can be very beneficial to your lawn's root system. This pays off big-time once the weather gets warmer!

2. Get Rid of Those Leaves!
Raking leaves might be a pain, but allowing them to stay on your lawn for extended periods of time can actually suffocate your grass as well as rob it of light. Save a Tree recommends not waiting till the last minute rake your leaves; a good rake every two weeks is probably your best bet for a better-looking lawn come spring.

Note: Leaves not only make great fertilizer when composted, using them as such instead of leaving them on the curb for collection actually saves money on an individual level and saves tax dollars, too!

3. Don't Forget to Water
Many don't realize that watering your lawn in the fall and early winter can make a difference in next year's appearances. According to MSN's real estate site, "The ground should be moist as it heads toward winter, but not soggy, which could encourage mold." This should make your lawn healthier before the winter freeze, which in turn can give you healthier grass when the weather gets warm again.

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4. To Seed or Not to Seed
Some experts say that seeding in the late fall or early winter is the key to a better lawn in the spring. However, because weather can be extremely unpredictable, an unseasonably warm winter can wreak havoc on new seeds and leave your lawn looking sub-par. According to The University of Illinois' Lawn FAQ, "Dormant seeding has risks, so if a large area is to be planted, you may want to consider waiting until spring to do so." Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you plan on seeding your entire lawn rather than just a small section of, it is important to know that there is some risk involved.

5. Get Rid of Next Year's Weeds Now
Weeds are the downfall of many a lawn, and once they take root in the spring, they can be very difficult to eliminate. Star Nursery's take: "Weed seeds lie dormant all winter before "springing" to life as temperatures warm. Get the upper hand by applying pre-emergent type herbicides early to keep these seeds asleep permanently!" So, by taking measures in the late fall and early winter to prevent future weed growth, you are on your way to a beautiful lawn when you want it most.

Note: When using this tactic, it is important to use a pre-emergent weed control product rather than a post-emergent weed killer, as the two are not interchangeable!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.