Just as many people neglect the last gardening task of the year before the snow falls, many homeowners forget to get their lawns ready for winter. Most have already put the lawnmower away to make room for the snowblower! But preparing your lawn for winter is an important task.
To ensure you have a strong, green lawn in the spring, here are some tips to help you prepare.
1. Rake, Clear, and Mow
Rake. Before removing lawn debris, rake the lawn to break up any clumps of soil. Give it a good raking, then move on to clearing the lawn.
Clear. Make sure you remove everything from your lawn. This includes branches, leaves, and even toys. Leaving items on your lawn flattens the grass. If they’re left under the snow all winter it could lead to lawn disease.
Mow. Once your lawn is clear, it’s time to mow. When you cut your lawn for the last couple of times, decrease the mower’s height. Why? Because if the grass gets too long it could flatten itself, which causes the same diseases discussed above.
Take the time to create extra air for the grass’s roots by aerating. This can be done by perforating the soil across your entire yard with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to get to the roots. It helps to grow deeper roots, which creates a stronger lawn.
You can use a spade or a plug aerator. But using the plug tool typically yields better results since the plug is actually removed from the ground creating a bigger hole than a spike. A good rule of thumb is to use a tool that removes soil plugs about three inches deep, a half inch in diameter, and 3 inches apart.
It’s a good idea to apply fertilizer right after you aerate. The holes are unobstructed so the fertilizer can get down to the roots.
Set your spreader’s setting to the amount of fertilizer you’d like to use. (Read the instructions on the fertilizer’s package to check the recommended amount) Then add the fertilizer to the spreader on a hard surface like the street. Start by first spreading the fertilizer on the edges of the yard. After the edges are done, you can apply over the rest of the yard.
The next step is to apply grass seed to your lawn. You should purchase grass seed identified as cool weather seed or cool season seed. Then you can use the same spreader and sprinkle the seed throughput the lawn.
For seeding an existing lawn, loosen the top ¼ inch of soil on any bare spots and make sure to level parts of the lawn where water can become stagnant.
5. Keep Traffic off the Lawn
Finally, after doing all this work, make sure people and pets don’t spend too much time on the dormant grass. Compacted grass due to excessive foot (or paw) traffic will take longer to thrive in the spring.
And one additional tip. If you have a watering system, be sure to have it drained and winterized before it gets too cold. You don’t need to water your lawn now that the temperature has dropped.
These tips for preparing your lawn for winter can ensure a healthier lawn come spring. As always, if you need advice, make sure to call an expert. These jobs can be time-consuming and unfortunately there are plenty of mistakes to be made.