1. Snatch the thatch
Thatch, a mat of yellowish dead grass that can block air and moisture, must be removed. If you slacked on the dethatching in spring, now is the time, but don’t go at it too aggressively. If you set the tines too deep on a power rake, you can destroy the lawn. “You’re better off making three or four shallow passes, in which you increase the depth of the tines, than going too deep in one pass,” Cira says. Likewise, use small flags to mark sprinkler heads to avoid collateral damage.
Don’t rent a dirty dethatcher. It’s always a bad sign when rental equipment is beat up and dirty, but more so if it’s lawn gear. Dirt and debris from a previous customer can spread disease and weed seed from the rental machine to your lawn. Choose your rental center carefully. Look for clean, well-maintained equipment.
2. Go to seed
True lawn lovers know that early fall is the season to reboot. If you need to reseed, Cira advises using proprietary turf-grass seed, available at nurseries, online and from landscape-supply houses. Turf-grass breeders constantly improve their seed, and many produce specific regional types. Although this seed is more expensive than what’s sold at home centers, it’s also more vigorous. Cira quotes the adage that a cheap tool is an expensive tool. “You might pay a few dollars more for a proprietary seed, but the results are tremendous, and you don’t have to keep constantly reseeding,” he says.