How to Troubleshoot Five Common Fall Lawn Issues

Get your grass looking its best in no time with tips from our two experts.

A lawn is at peak health when the grass is green, full, and moist. Getting a care routine down pat, including a regular watering schedule, can get your turf to this level and prevent scorching-hot days from causing burns or dehydrated patches. This is important even as summer turns to fall: The impact of heat and other conditions during this season can cause issues further on throughout the year. Here, find expert-approved ways to care for your lawn this autumn.

Tend to thatch.

According to Kristen Craft, the senior brand manager at Husqvarna, it is important to maintain a healthy lawn for consecutive seasons to allow for stronger, deeper root systems. However, issues can still pop up because of the roots. "Over time, a layer of dead grass, roots, and debris will often accumulate between the soil surface and the green grass blades above," she says. "This layer is called thatch, and it's important to remove or break up thatch to ensure your lawn stays healthy."

The best times to remove thatch are in late spring or early fall, when grass is growing. If your region is arid during these periods, however, hold off; the roots could end up drying out if you proceed. After you disrupt the thatch, add air. "Healthy grass needs air and room to grow—removing this build-up helps promote a lush, green lawn," notes Craft. "Aerating involves punching holes in the ground to add oxygen and nutrients to the soil, while providing a space for seeds to germinate." As for another pro tip? Once you aerate and remove thatch, she recommends that you fertilize, top dress, and water the lawn.

lush backyard lawn sprinklers running
Kyryl Gorlov / Getty Images

Fix bald spots and thin areas.

Lawns that become patchy in autumn can seem difficult to revive once the temperature cools off, but it's definitely possible to do so. Sadie Oldham, the brand director at instead, shares that the best way to thicken a lawn is with fertilizer. "Giving the grass the nutrients it needs to grow will help your thin lawn thicken up before the end of the year," she explains. "If your lawn is extremely thin or has bare spots, you may also want to overseed (add seed to your lawn without removing the existing grass)." If you live in the northern regions of the United States, she suggests overseeding your lawn during this season. Southerners should do so in the spring, once the weather gets warmer.

Kill weeds.

"Early fall is a good time to kill remaining weeds before they go dormant for the winter," Craft explains. "However, be careful about applying any herbicides to your lawn if you've recently planted new grass seed—always read the labels of your particular product as many lawn weed control products will interfere with new seed germination (also, avoid getting herbicide on any landscaping plants)."

Tend to lawn rust.

Do you think your lawn is experiencing rust? If so, there are a few ways to make the diagnosis. "Rust is a lawn disease caused by a fungus that takes advantage of slow-growing, weak grass," Oldham says. "A lawn affected by rust will have a light yellow, patchy look from far away." Plus, blades will have yellow-orange rust-colored spores that might even leave a tint on your shoes when you're walking on your lawn. This ailment typically sets in during the fall, after summer conditions weaken the grass. The key to reviving it? Strengthen the greenery by mowing high, fertilizing, and watering.

Get rid of dollar spot lawn disease.

Dollar spot lawn disease is another fungal issue that can actually pop up any time of year, but it can especially plague lawns during the fall. "The main symptom of dollar spot on lawns is tan or bleached spots or patches around three to six inches in diameter," notes Oldham. "Dollar spot occurs in humid conditions during the transition from summer to fall when evening temperatures are still high." Again, fertilizer is the solution to this problem since it will reduce outbreaks and help the area recover as a whole. You should also remove wet leaves from the area and avoid dewiness. The latter can be accomplished simply by watering your lawn in the morning instead of the early evening.

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