As the Starks from “Game of Thrones” say, “Winter is coming,” and even though you will no longer be pulling out your mower every weekend, your lawn still needs care to survive the cold, dark days ahead.
The type of care your lawn requires will depend greatly on where you live. In Florida, you may very well continue to mow your lawn throughout the year, but in Minnesota, your lawn will lay dormant under the snow. But some lawn prep activities will remain the same regardless of your location. Here’s How to Prep a Lawn for Winter.
As summer fades and Fall sets in, it’s time to start preparing your lawn to settle in for the winter. Check over your lawn for bare patches and other damaged areas. Being mindful of frost, now might be the perfect time to reseed them (dependent on your area). Reseed with the same type of grass you already have to prevent an uneven appearance.
Before the first frosts, lay down a winterizing fertilizer. A lawn specialist at your local home and garden store can help you find one that’s perfect for your area, but in general – you are looking for a fertilizer with higher potassium and phosphorous and lower nitrogen than typical lawn fertilizers. Follow the directions on the package for the best results. If you have fertilized the lawn within the last three months, the winterizing fertilizer will not be necessary.
Before you lay down the fertilizer, make sure to aerate your lawn so that the fertilizer can be properly absorbed. You can save money by either borrowing an aerator from a friend or renting one from a home improvement store.
Winter Lawn Care STARTS with Fall Lawn Care
After the leaves start falling, keep them raked up and off the lawn as much as possible. This allows the soil to “breathe” and prevents moss from setting in and absorbing nutrients that your grass needs.
Do your final mow once the grass has stopped growing. Mow the grass to a length of 1 to 2 inches. Clean up the clippings so they don’t rot. Leaving the grass long invites moisture and diseases that can weaken or kill your grass. Once these diseases take hold, they can be difficult to bring back under control.
Late Fall and Early Winter Care
If your yard is heavily landscaped with trees and fragile plants that need extra care to make it through the winter, you will need to mulch with compost, manure or bark. Wait until the ground freezes to apply the mulch and then only apply it around the trees and the plants.
When applying mulch around trees, don’t pile the mulch right around the trunk. Small animals have been known to make their homes in mulch and may enjoy nibbling on the bark of the tree. It would be a shame to go through all the work of mulching only to discover that your tree has been a tasty snack for a family of mice all winter. Leaving at least 1 to 2 inches should be sufficient to keep your tree safe.
Winter Lawn Care
Once the cold weather hits and frosty days become the norm, remind family members and friends not to walk on the grass when it is frozen. Stepping on frozen grass will damage it and could hamper its growth next year.
If your winters stay above freezing and you haven’t seen a lot of precipitation, you will still want to water your lawn throughout the winter. If 10 days go by without rain, give your lawn a good deep soaking. This helps the roots to grow strong in the soil so that you will have a beautiful, healthy lawn in the coming year.
Alex Wayne is a full-time blogger who enjoys writing about home improvement, HVAC and plumbing topics, with a special emphasis on saving money through a do-it-yourself approach. His current focus is to translate tips and tricks from home improvement experts into insightful blog posts and articles for homeowners who want to work smarter, not harder. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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