As we creep into November, most gardeners are rushing to finish any last-minute tasks they have not completed — including buttoning up the lawn for the year.
This late in the year, you really only have two things to deal with in terms of your fall lawn care. By the end of October, according to the University of Minnesota, you should have done a final fall fertilizer treatment, if you planned to do one; any aerating that you had planned for this year and a final application of broad-leaf weed control, if you have an issue with weeds. The final tasks for your lawn in November are finishing raking up leaves and giving the grass one last mow once it stops growing — which it has by now.
If you only have a few leaves in your yard, you can do the two tasks together. Just mow the lawn with the leaves on it. The mower will mince the leaves enough that they can be left on the lawn as a mulch. By next spring, they will have decomposed enough to be a gentle fertilizer for the lawn. If you have a lot of leaves, rake them up and spread them on garden beds for mulch or compost them for a beautiful addition to your garden next year.
Here’s a visual to help you decide if it’s time to mow or rake.
How Low Should You Mow?
Years ago, I was told to mow your grass shorter in the fall than you do the rest of the year. After checking a bunch of websites, it seems most turf-care experts suggest mowing at the same height you do all year — as long as your typical mowing height is around 3 inches. Three inches seems to be the optimum height for cool-season grasses (the kind we grow in the North). If for some reason you keep your lawn taller than 3 inches, you may want to lower it to that height for the last mow of the season. Longer grass encourages vole activity, according to the U of M, and believe me, voles can give your lawn a weird look come spring.
Once these fall lawn care tasks are done, clean up your mower and store it for the winter. Your lawn is ready for the snow to fly.