You can achieve a lawn that looks good and is functional and still have your weekends free. You just have to try to understand its needs and then try to meet them. In the Upstate we can grow either cool climate or warm climate grasses. Cool season grasses grow well in the cool months (60-75 degrees) and warm season grasses thrive in hot weather, looking their best when temperatures are 80-95 degrees. They go dormant and turn brown when the weather cools.
Cool Season Lawns: Lawns need air to breathe. Make plans to help your lawn breathe easier this fall by aerifying your lawn. Cool season grasses should be aerified in the fall when there is less heat stress and danger of invasion by weedy annuals. Allow at least 4 weeks of good growing weather to help the plants recover. Don’t retire the mower when the grown of your lawn slows this fall. As long as the grass continues to grow, it should be mowed. Fertilize Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue according to the results of a soil test. Mow often enough that no more than 1/3 of the grass height is cut.
Warm Season Lawns: If you expect a green lawn year round, skip the green spray paint and plan to overseed with a cool season grass. Perennial ryegrass and annual ryegrass are the commonly used cool season grasses that provide green color during the winter months after warm season grasses have long turned brown and dormant. Overseeding is best done on a lush and healthy lawn. Never overseed turf grasses growing in moderate to heavy shade. Often it results in a thinned out lawn that’s easily invaded by weeds. The best time to overseed is two or three weeks before the expected first frost or when the soil temperature drops below 75 degrees. Do not fertilize warm season grasses at this time. Raise the mowing height of of your lawn by 1/2″ several weeks before the first expected frost. As long as your grass continues to grow, it should be mowed.
Shrubs: Prune out only branches that are dead, diseased, or broken. Pruning now will only stimulate tender, new growth, which can be killed by our first freeze.
Outdoor Planters and flower beds: Are you wondering what to plant in your planters or flower beds this fall? In the planters, try a tall evergreen with cascading ivy and calibrachoa (Million Bells). Pansies are a popular fall flower for flower beds as are mums. Have fun with it!
*Excerpts from Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas by Bob Polomski