When you think of lawn care, odds are you’re imagining warm summer days. Lots of people think that your lawn doesn’t need any attention in the winter. This isn’t true. While it’s true that your yard definitely needs plenty more work in the hot months, winter doesn’t mean that you can ignore it completely. In fact, the cold actually brings in a whole new set of specific problems that need to be addressed if you want your yard to stay healthy and thriving. All of these tips will help make sure your grass looks perfect once the winter ends.
Aerate your lawn
There’s plenty to get to during the winter in terms of lawn care, but aeration should be
one of the very first things on your to-do list. For those not too familiar with what aeration does, let’s have a little refresher. It deals with something called thatch, which is basically just small pieces of dead grass that have fallen off the blades and are collecting near the base of the grass and above the soil. It’s actually a good thing, generally to have a bit of thatch in your lawn, as small amounts of it can be broken down by the soil.
You can start to run into some problems when you have too much of it, though. More than a half inch of thatch can start to suffocate your lawn, essentially. A thick pile of thatch on top of the soil keeps good stuff like air and water from getting to the roots of your grass. This, obviously, hurts the health of your lawn and can cause your grass to die off when it really shouldn’t. If you’ve ever noticed your lawn looking grim despite other diligent maintenance, a build-up of thatch could be the culprit.
So, aeration is pretty much the best way to deal with the thatch problem. You want your grass to have nutrients during the winter, and aerating before doing anything else will ensure that it can actually access the nutrients you give it. You’ll want to do it before the first freeze hits, otherwise it won’t be too helpful.
In terms of how to get the actual aeration done, it is possible to do it yourself, but it’s recommended to have a service help you out. They have the machine itself, modes of transport, and expertise to make sure your lawn gets clear while not damaging any sprinkler systems in the process.
Next up: fertilize
It might seem a little counterintuitive to fertilize your lawn during winter, but trust us when we say you’ll be thankful you did come the spring. As we mentioned earlier, grass is particularly adept at storing nutrients through the winter and using them once the warmth comes. By fertilizing ahead of time, your lawn will be ready to spring back into action once the winter ends, and you’ll be impressed by how healthy it really looks. Additionally, strong grass means less weeds and disease, which is definitely something you want to avoid for a good looking yard.
Once again, you really should only be fertilizing before the first major freeze of the season, so be diligent and proactive! If the soil is already frozen, fertilization won’t do a whole lot, sadly.
Should I mow during winter?
The answer to this question definitely depends on where you live. Not to state the obvious, but you really only want to mow your grass while it’s still growing. If it doesn’t get to the point where your yard completely stops growing during the winter (which totally depends on where you live), cut your grass shorter than normal. If the grass is growing slower and seems like it will stop soon, mow it a bit shorter every time, gradually decreasing its height about an inch or so as you head towards the last mowing for the season. If the grass has stopped growing, don’t worry about mowing.
Something to keep in mind: although you want to decrease the mowing height as it gets colder, make sure to not cut it too low. If you go more than an inch or so down, you can expect more weeds to grow.
Treat your yard with respect
One of the best ways to make sure your yard makes it through the winter and comes back strong is to simply be kind to it. The first piece of this is to not trample around on it too much. It’s already in a weakened state, and an excess of traffic will leave it crippled come spring. Once it’s frosted over, stay off it as much as is convenient. It will thank you for it!
Another key aspect to this is just keeping your lawn as clean as possible. Furniture should be removed so that it doesn’t weigh down the grass too much. Placing it in the garage or shed until warmer months will do just fine. Plus, you won’t miss it much anyway; who wants to sit and drink an iced tea in the front yard in January?
Removing leaves and other organic debris from the yard during winter is also crucial. This is especially true in the months leading up to full-on winter, but it goes for during the season as well. A build up of leaves and other matter can have similar effects to too much thatch, damaging your grass and restricting its ability to get nutrients. Wet, pulpy leaves should be raked up and put into bags or otherwise removed. If they’re more on the dry side, feel free to mulch them up and put them back onto the lawn in a thin layer so that their nutrients can actually be absorbed.
Taking care of your lawn in the winter may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it’s an important step that shouldn’t be skipped. A lot of the chores need to be done before the first frost, so try to make a plan and stick to it to make sure that the winter doesn’t sneak up on you. If it’s already frosted over, try to just stay aware of it and not walk over it too much or leave objects in the yard. By the time the winter ends, it’s time to resume normal lawn care, but it will have a much stronger foundation from the help you gave it during the cold season. You’re welcome to contact Quench Irrigation if you have any questions.