Now that summer is dwindling, there is less heat stress on your lawn (and new seeds).
For a plush lawn this fall and next year, Fall is the time to reseed. In late August, the New England summer heat starts to fade and more moderate temperatures and cool mornings are an excellent environment to start new grass seedlings. Plus, most weeds start to go dormant so there is less fighting for soil nutrients. But remember, new seeds need moderate and consistent moisture, so keep the soil moist but not drenched. An irrigation system setup to water your lawn 2-3 times a day is ideal.
Less heat stress and dew in the mornings helps your lawn recover fast!
The fun phrase, "knee-high by the Fourth of July" is typically used in reference to growing corn. And, yes, I'm aware not all the best corn is, in fact, knee-high by the Fourth of July. But it's neat how these sayings and reminders stick with us and come back to us each summer. In fact, many gardening chores are linked to Independence Day, so its a great reminder to prune back spring flowering shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, lilacs and viburnums. Though this task can actually be done soon after flowering, many like to think of an easy date like Fourth of July as a reminder for when they need to check it off of their to-do lists.
For best results, dethach right after a light rain or lightly water your lawn beforehand (this helps the grass lift and aids in recovery). For small sections a cavex (aka thatching) rake works great, but for large lawns you may want to rent a power dethatcher, they cost about $45-$60 for a half day rental. Be sure to watch out for sprinkler heads if you use a powered dethatcher.
Keep your grass at the right height to prepare for winter.
Keep your grass 2 to 2-1/2 inches tall throughout the fall. If your grass gets much longer (3+ inches) it can get matted down, leading to winter lawn disease problems. Conversely, if you cut it shorter than 2 inches, you'll severely limit the lawn's ability to make and store essential nutrients (like Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and Calcium) it needs for growth in the spring.
Save your back and feed your grass.
Want to make Fall Cleanup easier? Instead of raking consider mulching the leaves with your lawn mower. How? Simple, take the grass catcher off your mower and mow the leaves on your lawn. If you have a lot of leaves, you can take 2 perpendicular passes, to break down the leaves even further.
The goal is to reduce the leaves to nickle to dime-size pieces. Once the leaves settle into your lawn, microbes and worms get to work recycling them. This helps to feed your lawn into late Fall and even Spring. Any kind of rotary-action mower will do the job, and any kind of leaves can be chopped up.