How to Fix Your Ugly Lawn This Fall | No Seeding Needed

This question came in from one of our customers recently and I thought I’d share since many of you are facing a similar situation:

"I am in Sartell, Mn , Stearns county. We have had no rain all summer and my lawn is totally dormant and brown. I haven't mowed in over 2 months. We just received 1.5 inches of rain last night with the potential for more this weekend and ongoing. What if anything should I do for fertilizer if my lawn starts to green up to prepare for fall and winter?”

You all through the upper midwest got hammered with dry conditions this season for sure. I was in Fargo, ND a week ago, just a couple hours north of you and this is what lawns there were looking like from these same weather conditions all summer:

brown lawn in summer

Even folks with irrigation systems have stopped watering because the bills have been horrendous and in many cases, watering restrictions have been put in place anyway.

But now, we are getting rain help and the way things look, it’s going to continue that way. The fall rains that we expect to get are going to be the key to getting your lawn back up and running.

Just in case you have not seen it, I have a complete guide on fall aeration and overseeding that you can download right here.

Many of you have told me that while you wish you had the time to do all that, you don’t and you’re just wondering what the best fertilizers are that you can use to re-trigger the growth of your existing grass. So here’s the plan:

Step 1 - Do this now (or this coming weekend)

Apply 24-0-6 Flagship, 3lbs/1,000 sq ft

Apply Dithiopyr pre-emergent 4lbs/1,000 sq ft

Apply Air8 Liquid Aeration, 9oz/1,000

We have a natural growth pattern that is going to happen with all this rain. It’s telling your grass “hey time to grow some roots and store up energy for winter.” We want to encourage that with nitrogen and Flagship will deliver for sure!

I also included some pre-emergent here because the last thing we want is for winter annual weeds to grab space when we are trying to get our good grass to fatten back up. Dithiopyr will stop these fall germinating weeds including chickweed, bittercress and henbit.

I also have bio-stimulant liquid Air8 in here because with all this rain, the soil will be wide open and we want the Air8 to dig deep in there so more and more roots can run. 

You can apply all of this on the same day and water them in together with ½” of irrigation. If the rain keeps up (or you can water the lawn at least every couple days) you will see a dramatic improvement in just a week or so. No kidding. It will happen that fast.

Step 2 - 4 weeks after step 1

Apply 24-0-6 Flagship, 3lbs/1,000

Apply Air8 Liquid Aeration, 9oz/1,000

You can also apply any other bio-stimulants you have such as RGS, MicroGreene or Humic12.

The key here is to keep that nitrogen pumping! Your grass is going to be looking 100% better by now but we need to keep pushing it. You will want to ensure you are mowing often too - don’t let up on that. If leaves fall, people will ask about picking them up or mulching them - I have always subscribed to this philosophy here:

Step 3 - 4 weeks after step 2

Apply 24-0-6 Flagship, 3lbs/1,000

Are you seeing the pattern here? It’s really just that simple. You will be seeing such beautiful results by this time that you’ll want to throw down to keep it going.

After Your Last Mow of the Season

At some point in the fall, depending on how far north you are, you will mow the lawn for the final time of the season. I can’t tell you exactly when this will be, but you will know. It will be cold outside and you’ll know this is it. On that same day, apply a winterizer application of fertilizer. For this one you can actually switch things up and go with a higher potassium product like the 7-0-20 Stress Blend. Potassium is great for cool season lawns heading into winter as it strengthens cel walls which helps retain moisture. Winter is very dry and cold as you know.

That’s really it. I promise you that the combination of lots of water and fertilizer, plus the natural fall growth spurt your turf gets anyway - these three things - will make your lawn look a whole lot better than it does now right after a nasty, hot, dry summer.

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