Fall Prep for Spring Listings
When people are looking for a house to buy, regardless of their criteria and how long they’ve been searching, the one that knocks their socks off at the curb is the one they know is right. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the fiftieth house they’ve seen, it’s just a gut feeling that makes them say “I want to live here.”
Your lawn is the first thing that people notice. It should be healthy in all seasons, but certainly green and thriving in the warmer months. If it’s still looking good right now, take photos so you can use them if you’re putting your house on the market later in the year.
If you’re planning to sell your house next spring, you might have thought that you’d have to wait until winter fades to start getting your lawn in shape. Actually, though, fall is the best time to prepare for a lush and beautiful carpet of green lawn that will welcome home buyers and last through the summer. Hiring a professional lawn care service like TruGreen is the most convenient and reliable thing to do, and will save you time you can spend sprucing up the inside of your home for prospective buyers instead. To keep your lawn looking great for photos and prepped for selling in the spring, follow these steps as soon as the leaves start turning:
Adjust the Watering Schedule
Temperatures are cooling, and grass is growing more slowly now, but it’s important to keep on watering. Just keep an eye on the sky and adjust the schedule according to the weather. To avoid overwatering, do the tuna can test. Place empty tuna cans in scattered parts of the lawn and see how much water they receive during a week’s time. You’re good if any combination of irrigation and rain deposit an inch in each can.
Keep on Mowing
You can cut down on the schedule because the grass isn’t growing as fast, but as soon as the turf reaches the recommended height for its variety (generally between 2 and 4 inches), get to work and mow it down by one-third of its height. This not only keeps your lawn looking trim, but it helps keep the grass healthy and resistant to weeds and insects. As a side benefit, it also chews up fallen leaves and turns them into soil-enhancing mulch.
Rake up fallen leaves before they turn into a soggy blanket that stifles the grass. And while you’re at it, apply some pressure to loosen and remove the thick layer of plant debris that has accumulated under the grass during the summer and that would otherwise impede water and airflow. Don’t rake too roughly, though, or you’ll remove healthy grass along with everything else. Finish the job by stowing away lawn furniture, big toys, and the like until it’s time to use them again.
Aerate the Soil
Fall is the perfect time to aerate the soil, especially if you’ve got clay or a lot of compaction. The process involves punching small holes all over the lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can reach grass roots easily. The plugs are left on the lawn and decompose by themselves as they feed nutrients back to the lawn. Consider hiring a lawn care professional for this task because while you can rent what’s called a core aerator at your local garden center, they’re large and bulky.
Overseeding is the practice of seeding the entire lawn even if it’s only bare or thinning in some spots. It ensures a thick, healthy crop of grass that fends off weeds. Fall is the best time for seeding because the sun isn’t too hot but the ground is still warm, and in most climates, moisture is plentiful. But if there’s no rain, water regularly until seedlings appear.
Once-a-year feeding is done in the fall to give your lawn the nutrients it needs to grow deep roots now as well as keep some in reserve for a strong start in the spring. If your variety of turf is on a twice-a-year feeding schedule, and you fertilized in the spring, now is the time for the second round.
Stop Weeds Before They Start
Like most plants, weeds absorb energy in the fall to build root systems that will see them through the winter. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide now, and stop them before they start. Don’t wait until it gets cold, though, because most herbicide manufacturers recommend doing the treatment when daytime temperatures are still above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
For more detailed information about lawn care, check out The Lawn Institute.
About Sara MacLennan
Sara MacLennan is the Director of Marketing at Liv Real Estate and a licensed Real Estate Associate. The bulk of Sara’s experience and wealth of expertise lies in on-line technology and marketing both for agents and consumers. Sara is the former National Director for Interactive Marketing for Coldwell Banker Canada where she was responsible for an extensive training program traveling to offices across the country training agents and brokers on marketing and technology. Find Sara on Twitter @edmontonblogger.