You may think that maintaining and caring for your lawn only happens in the spring and summer months, but the truth is, proper lawn care takes place all year long.
As the colder weather takes hold you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to help your lawn stay healthy this winter. Like, should I fertilize my lawn in the winter? How to fertilize lawn in winter? What about watering; should I water my lawn in winter? If so, when, and how often? What about winter lawn damage? To help your lawn get through this winter we put together some winter lawn maintenance tips that will not only help your lawn survive, but thrive this winter.
Winter Lawn Care Prep
Prior to the coldest winter months (based on your region), you should dethatch, aerate, and seed your lawn to ensure the grass returns lush and green in the spring. This is an important step to ensure a healthy spring lawn because the process will remove any inhibiting layers of dead grass, and ensure air, water, and nutrients reach the grass roots. This will also help repair any bare patches. You can complete this process by simply using a rake, aerator, and some store-bought grass seed. Although the process is not complicated, it does require a little time and effort to complete (depending on the size of your lawn). If you live in an area north of the Mason Dixon line this process will need to be completed between mid-October and mid-November.
During the colder months your lawn begins to conserve energy to make it through the winter. It basically survives on the food stored within its roots. While this is happening, however, your lawn’s roots continue to grow. If you can provide those roots with the additional, and proper nutrients they need, your lawn we have a much better chance of maintaining its health during cold weather. So, fertilizing your lawn in the winter is beneficial. This raises the question, when should I put winter fertilizer on my lawn? Depending on where you live (and how early or late winter arrives) apply one application of fertilizer just after your last mow, then water. So yes, you should fertilize your lawn in the winter, but only once.
Winterize Your Sprinkler System
One question that gets asked often is, how often should I water my lawn in winter? Again, the answer depends on where you live and whether you need to winterize your sprinkler system before winter sets in. People who live north of the Mason Dixon line will need to winterize their system by early to mid-November. However, if the weather is still relatively mild where you live, and you have not yet winterized your sprinklers (or don’t need to), you can water your lawn once a week (depending on the amount of rain). Once the weather starts to turn colder, winterizing your sprinkler system is crucial not only for your system, but your wallet, too! Failure to winterize could result in damage to your watering system, since any water left in the system can freeze and break the pipes. If you need to winterize your sprinklers, take some time to survey your system, and fix any items that need repair.
When you’re ready to winterize, use the irrigation shutoff valve to shut down the system – flush the pipes with air to remove any water. You should test the backflow and open the drain screws so that you can blow it out completely. Then, insulate the above-ground plumbing and shut down the control panel. This means no more watering using your system, so your lawn will have to rely on natural precipitation. The good news is, the colder weather will slow the growth of your lawn, which means it doesn’t need as much water to survive.
Winterize Your Lawn Mower
Part of winter lawn maintenance is tending to the tools you use to care for your lawn throughout the year. Since lawn growth slows considerably during the colder months, you won’t have to mow your lawn much, if at all. Therefore, you should winterize your lawnmower by emptying the fuel system, change the spark plug and oil, remove the battery, and change the air filter. Clean the lawnmower deck, and lubricate any moving parts. This will help ensure the longevity of your lawnmower. Then when warmer weather and your lawn returns, your mower will be ready to handle the job.
During Winter Months
Part of winter lawn care and a good way to minimize winter lawn damage is by limiting the amount of foot, animal, and vehicle traffic your lawn is subject to this winter. Heavy and consistent traffic could wear a path in your lawn and damage it for the coming season. Since the soil underneath your lawn is compacted and relatively dry during the winter – traffic can cause damage that can be challenging to repair. To minimize traffic, have a walking path cleared nearby to encourage a set traffic pattern (you can also use small garden fence).
Avoid Getting Salt on Your Lawn
Salt is not good for your lawn, especially during the winter when your lawn is most vulnerable. In the winter, salt can damage or even kill your lawn. To prevent salt damage, consider placing burlap, or a plastic covering around the edges of your lawn to protect it from any salt that may get spread inadvertently when clearing drive or walkways. Minimize using salt in areas close to your lawn, and carefully spread the salt down as needed. Some homeowners forgo using salt altogether, opting for sand or cat litter to clear snow and ice. It’s definitely a safer option for your lawn.
Spread Out Snow Piles
When snow starts to accumulate, spreading out any piles that are on your lawn should help the snow melt evenly. High mounds of snow that are left on an area of your lawn too long (as other areas melt), could damage or kill that patch of grass. This will result in some dead spots that could spread to other areas of your lawn.
Water as Needed (When Possible)
As mentioned, many people ask, “How often should I water my lawn in winter?”. Well, it depends. If you live in a region that doesn’t see much rainfall, and where the temperatures don’t get, and stay below freezing for extended periods, you can water your lawn periodically during the winter. Water briefly every two or three weeks, but only when temperatures are above freezing and when precipitation has been scarce. This will prevent your lawn from drying out completely. Of course, if you have winterized your sprinkler system, you’ll have to find another means of watering your lawn (or hope for rain, and/or snow).
Have a Beautiful Spring Lawn
Having a beautiful lawn means maintaining it throughout the year, even during the winter months. Now that you know how to take care of your lawn during the winter; you can start taking the steps needed to maintain the rest of your yard too!
If you have trees, winter tree maintenance is essential to keep them healthy for the spring and summer. And if your winters are harsh, wrapping your shrubs can help them survive the coldest months of the year. If winterizing your lawn and landscaping feels a bit overwhelming, call The Grounds Guys. We can help maintain your lawn and the rest of your landscaping, so when spring does arrive, it will look its absolute best. We can even repair any winter lawn damage. Schedule an appointment online today!