There is no better time than fall to get yards looking great, according to the "Yard Doctor" Trey Rogers, a professor of turfgrass management in the crop and soil sciences department at Michigan State University.
Here are 6 tips from Rogers to help you and your clients take advantage of the seasonal weather and vibrant colors to add dramatic curb appeal.
1. For home owners in the northern portion of the United States, fall is the single best time to fertilize a yard. During the first 10 days of September, lay a complete nitrogen and potassium combination fertilizer.
2. Fall is also the best time to reseed grass. If you have bare spots from the summer, put down a seed mix that matches the yard during the first 15 days of September. Yards with crabgrass will notice the patches turn purple with the first frost. It is important to thoroughly seed and water those areas.
"It's a good time because the ground is still warm, but the days are getting shorter so you don't have as much day length to rob the moisture out of the soil," Rogers says.
3. During the first 10 days of October, take care of those pesky weeds and dandelions. Spray a liquid broadleaf herbicide over the yard. Weeds germinate in the fall, so by treating the problem in October, there will be fewer dandelions in the spring.
4. Mow, mow, mow. If you really want a yard to look smashing, dedicate yourself to mowing twice a week with the blade set at 2 ½ to 3 inches through mid-October.
"They'll be surprised when they see how much that makes the grass grow," says Rogers. Don't forget to keep watering, too.
5. It's important to get those leaves off the ground as to not suffocate the lawn. But a better option would be to grind up the leaves and mulch them back into the yard. Most lawnmowers have blades designed for mulching. This provides natural nutrients and can be an organic weed controller -- particularly maple leaves, which are a natural herbicide toward dandelions, Rogers says.
6. Play with the fall colors. Display potted mums. Think red. Dogwood bushes are cold-weather hardy and have red or yellow branches. Holly is another great way to decorate the outside of a home, where the bright red berries on the branches can standout.
John (Trey) Rogers, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the country's leading experts on growing and maintaining healthy lawns. He has been a professor of turfgrass science at Michigan State University for 22 years. He is also a consultant to Briggs & Stratton, a manufacturer of engines for outdoor power equipment, where he has become known as the Yard Doctor. Visit his Web site: http://www.yardsmarts.com