Questions and Answers about Fall Lawn Care

Considering fall lawn care but not sure where to start? Our Agway Lawn Expert has pulled together some FAQs (with answers!) to help you get the most out of your efforts.

Q: Why is fall the best time to seed my lawn?

  • Grasses that grow on Cape Cod are cool season turf grasses, meaning they thrive once temperatures start dipping below 70 degrees.
  • Grass seed germinates best when soil temperatures are between 55 and 70 degrees.
  • Annual weeds such as crabgrass and spurge are at the end of their life cycle in fall and won’t compete with the new grass growth.
  • The long fall season on Cape Cod allows for the newly emerged grass to establish before the winter.

Q: What type of grass seed should I use?

The main factor in selecting the right grass seed for your property is sunlight:

  • A lawn receiving 8 hours of direct sunlight per day requires a “sunny” or “high traffic” grass seed mixture.
  • A lawn receiving 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day requires a “sun and shade” grass seed mixture.
  • A lawn receiving less than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day  requires a “dense shade” grass seed mixture.

NOTE: These are broad guidelines and certain grass varieties lend themselves to multiple uses. Browse our collection of grass seeds here.

Q: Can I just throw the grass seed down and it will grow?

The quick answer is YES, but your chances of success with be greatly improved if you do the following:

  • prepare the area by adding new soil
  • use a mulch or straw cover to help retain moisture
  • apply a starter fertilizer and lime

Q: Why should I add lime to my lawn?

Adding lime to soil raises the soil pH and keeps the correct pH-range for grasses to thrive. When the soil is at the optimal pH level, more nutrients like nitrogen from lawn fertilizer is available for the grass to utilize, allowing grass to grow fuller and thicker.

Q: What supplies and tools do I need to succeed in fall lawn care?

These items will help you save time in both labor and return trips to the store:

  • Garden weasel cultivator to help break down compacted soil
  • Metal rake to help level out the areas being reseeded
  • Seed spreader to help ensure that the right amount of grass seed is being used (either a push or handheld spreader will do the job)
  • Grass seed selected based on your lawn conditions (see above)
  • PennMulch or chopped garden straw (both are free of unwanted seeds) to cover up the seed, this will help retain moisture and prevent birds from eating the new seed
  • Starter fertilizer and lime–the new grass has specific nutrition and pH needs in order to get established
  • Sprinklers and hoses–never rely on rain to supply the necessary water! The new seed will need to be watered daily for 7-14 days in order to germinate

Q: How do I reseed my entire lawn?

Aerating the lawn is a fast and cost-effective way to prepare the lawn to be reseeded. The Aerator (self-propelled machine similar to a lawn mower) will create holes in your lawn that help with compaction and provide the grass seed with favorable conditions to germinate. A starter fertilizer, lime and water are key factors in your success.  For a more detailed step-by-step from our Agway of Cape Cod experts, click here.

Q: How do I reseed small bare spots?

There are several options in shaker jugs that contain seed, mulch and fertilizer. These all-in-one options make quick work of any small seeding project. Water! Water! Water!

Q: How do I reseed large bare spots?

Scratch up the area using a garden weasel or metal rake in order to loosen up and break up compacted soil; add new high quality top soil to level out and fill in holes; spread seed over the area using a broadcast spreader to ensure proper distribution; cover the new seed with either PennMulch (it eliminates the need to apply a starter fertilizer) or chopped garden straw; apply a starter fertilizer and lime; Water! Water! Water!

Have a question about lawn care? E-mail us!