Portland Fall Lawn Care and Staging Guide

fall lawn care portland

Do you drool over Portland real estate listing photos with lush, beautiful lawns in front of the house?
Guess what, so do buyers. Here’s our agent-approved guide to growing the best lawn on the block this fall.

Fall Lawn Care for Portland Homes

Many Portland homeowners let their lawn go brown in the summer through infrequent watering. They know that if it’s only been “dead” (really dormant) a few weeks, the fall rains will bring the green right back.

If you’re selling your home this fall, you might want to kick-start the greening process by watering heavily for a couple of days. If the grass stays brown, it’s actually dead. You will need to re-seed or re-sod, depending on the size of the area. Seeds can fill in sparse or bare patches, but if there are areas bigger than a couple of square feet in need of grass, sod is your best bet.

Most lawns come back from the dry spells with great resilience and enjoy the abundant Portland rainfall. Keeping grass a little bit long — 3 or 4 inches — is the best way to keep it from going brown between rains. Longer blades shade the roots and keep sun and wind from drying them.

Three-step Guide to Portland Lawn Maintenance

Fall is a great time to remove thatch, fertilize and reseed your lawn for lush growth. Here are some tips for each:

  1. Aerate: Grass has a tendency to build up a thick layer of “thatch”, a web of roots, stems and debris that can block water from reaching down deep and prevent new growth from coming up. The solution is to pull up plugs of lawn with an aerator, leaving behind small holes that will allow water and nutrients to reach the grass’ active root layer.
  2. Fertilize: Fall and spring are the two best seasons to fertilize your lawn in Portland. After aerating, you can apply a fertilizer close to the ground to feed the roots. The best way to select the right fertilizer for your lawn is to have the soil tested. The soil test (click here for a list of Portland providers) will tell you the nutrient content, composition, and pH level of your soil. Testing costs between $10 and $20 and will save you from buying expensive fertilizer if you don’t have to. It will also keep excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus, from running into Portland streams and rivers, which can disrupt the ecosystem balance and harm fish and other wildlife. If you do need to fertilize, don’t do it within five feet of a street gutter or drain, and don’t water excessively afterwards.
  3. Reseed: Reseeding is important not only to keep your lawn looking good, but also to prevent weeds from coming up in bare patches. Raking, aerating or otherwise disturbing the thatch layer before casting seeds will allow them to burrow down and stay moist. Applying compost after reseeding is another great way to keep them from drying out.

Enhance your Portland Lawn with Compost

Despite being one of the few urban centers with curbside compost pickup, Portland still likes to take the DIY approach. After all, why would a good gardener give up this rich source of organic nutrient?

If you’re putting your Portland home on the market and wondering what to do with the lovely compost pile in your backyard, consider distributing it to your lawn. Your grass will quickly grow through a thin layer of compost, and thrive with the addition of the micronutrients and microbes it contains. And, your home buyers will thank you for not leaving your compost pile behind!

Prepping the compost
Most piles don’t decompose perfectly, and there may be the occasional egg shell or avocado pit that you don’t want to throw directly on your lawn. The best solution is to screen your compost before spreading it. Screened compost has the ideal particle size and is easiest to distribute in an even layer across your lawn.

Create a simple compost screen by using some hardware cloth in a wood frame, or borrow one from a neighbor. You’ll also need a wheelbarrow or a tub to screen the compost into.

Ideally, aerate and reseed your lawn before adding compost. However, compost has the effect of allowing grass to grow up and through it, leaving the old thatch layer behind. Over time, your grass will also grow in thicker due to the increased nutrients and decreased thatch, so reseeding will not be necessary. However, for the best-looking lawn in just a few weeks, scatter some seed before you add compost.

Applying the compost
Use a shovel to throw the screened compost directly on the grass. Aim for a 1/4-inch layer, using a rake to even out thick patches. Avoid walking on the grass for a few days to prevent compaction, and even longer if you’ve reseeded the grass. In less than a week, your lawn will look as it did before the compost was added.

Outdoor Home Staging Guide

After you’ve cared for your lawn this fall, what else can be done to enhance curb appeal before your home is listed on the Portland market? Here are a few ideas.

  • Decorate? Fall is a popular time to decorate outdoor areas, but if you anticipate home showings, it’s best to keep decor minimal and holiday non-specific. On the other hand, a nice-looking fall arrangement of cornstalks, pumpkins, and potted mums can really set off a walkway, patio, or front porch. Just avoid blocking walkways, doors, and stairs.
  • Clean-up: A higher priority is to ensure summer garden beds are cleaned up, removing dead plant matter and anything that won’t survive the first frost. Keep up with leaf-raking and fall pruning. And remember, cobwebs are great for Halloween, but not for home sales.
  • Emphasize three-season spaces: Do you have a patio, deck or other outdoor space that can be enjoyed into the fall? Let buyers know visually by keeping the furniture out and the barbecue uncovered, weather permitting. Put away sun umbrellas and other summer items.
  • Safety first: Replace any missing bricks or paving stones in walkways. Fill holes or remove other trip hazards. When buyers are getting the outside scoop on your home, you want them to have a smooth and pleasant experience.

Ready to list your Portland home this fall? Contact our Top 1% Portland Seller’s Agents today.

September 14, 2018

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

Pay less (4.5% commission max.) and get more with his top 1% listing team or buy your next home with his excellent top 1% buyer’s team. We work from Salem, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington and beyond. Check out our full services areas on the top menu.