6 Questions About Winter Lawn Care Answered

Close up of ice crystals on grass | The Grounds Guys of Gettysburg

Landscaping and lawn maintenance isn’t as simple as just watering your lawn and mowing weekly, only to repeat the same pattern without deviation. There’s a strategy involved, and that can get a bit complicated. And with those complexities follow various questions you need answered. Our landscaping professionals in Gettysburg have been taking care of residential and commercial lawns for so long that we have a good idea of the questions most customers ask about their lawns when the seasons change.

Here are six to get you started.

1. What Happens to My Lawn in Winter?

The short answer is that grass growth slows down significantly. The long answer? Your grass will go dormant when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people assume that grass stops growing in winter, as if it goes into hibernation. Sorry to bust this myth wide open, but your grass doesn’t stop growing. It just doesn’t grow as quickly. Think of it as grass self-preservation. Still, there are tasks you can complete when growth slows, including overseeding your lawn in November and December, which is called dormant seeding. This process can be extremely beneficial to your grass and help you save time when the weather warms up again. Use cool-season grass seeding for this process at least 40 to 45 days before the first frost.

2. What Fertilizer Do I Use for the Grass During Cold Weather?

You’ll want to apply a winter fertilizer high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Why? Each ingredient offers health benefits for your lawn that it wouldn’t get otherwise. Let’s talk through each chemical for a better understanding.


If you want your grass to go through photosynthesis (trust us, you do), then nitrogen is vital. This chemical promotes the production of chlorophyll, which is crucial in the process. Nitrogen is also a macronutrient that aids in plant function, which is why it’s found in almost all fertilizers. You won’t want to add carbon to nitrogen-rich fertilizer because it could essentially remove nitrogen from the soil.


Phosphorus is an element that has a hand in various plant functions and processes. It’s vital to photosynthesis, absorbing, storing, and adapting the sun’s energy into organic molecules that drive biochemical reactions. Simply put, without phosphorus, your plant’s growth will greatly suffer.


Did you know that plants have tissue? Plant tissue, to be exact. The presence of potassium helps nutrients like water and other carbohydrates move through this plant tissue. It also helps to regulate CO2 levels, opening and closing stomata (cell structures that aid in exchanging carbon dioxide and water between the grass and the environment). And all of this, again, aids in photosynthesis.

Now, what have we learned? Without nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, grass wouldn’t go through important processes or grow properly.

3. Should I Fertilize My Lawn in Winter?

One application of winter fertilizer is more than enough to keep your lawn healthy during winter. If you overdo fertilization, you run the risk of grass that is:

  • Brittle
  • Discolored
  • Damaged
  • Bare

You could potentially do irreparable damage to your lawn. Regarding fertilizer, it’s best to have all the necessary information to take care of your grass appropriately. Avoid overfertilization by knowing the type of soil you have. MySoil® offers one of the best DIY soil test kits with detailed analysis that gives you an idea of how to amend your current soil deficiencies.

4. Do I Have to Mow My Grass?

During the winter months in Gettysburg, you’ll want to mow your grass up until late October, when the temperature stays consistently cold in November, December, and January. Your cool-season grass will be more resilient while the roots continue to grow slowly. However, avoid mowing when the grass is wet from morning dew or after heavy rain, snow, and ice.

5. Do I Still Need to Water My Grass in Winter?

In Gettysburg, you can decrease watering your lawn when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless you have ryegrasses or fescues—these cool-season grasses will flourish in cooler temperatures—you can irrigate once to twice a month to keep the soil saturated. Your grass may still experience winter drought, so watering is extremely necessary. It’s important to check your soil and ensure it’s still getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.

6. How Do I Keep My Lawn Healthy When It Gets Cold?

This question has various answers, but our Gettysburg team has a few tips to help you keep your lawn healthy when winter rolls through:

  • Monitor your grass consistently. Your grass may not need as much attention in winter as in spring and summer, but it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on it. If you notice an issue with your grass, it’s worth investigating to ensure you’re doing what’s necessary to keep it healthy.
  • Don’t overdo it. And by “it,” we mean everything. Don’t overwater, don’t overfertilize, don’t over-mow, etc. You’ll need to adjust the frequency of these tasks to promote continued root growth.
  • Get professionals to help. Call on your local landscaping professionals at The Grounds Guys of Gettysburg. We’re always here to help in summer, spring, fall, and especially winter. You can rely on us to design a plan that encourages lawn health all year long.
Contact us to request a free estimate or ask questions about how we can support you with winter lawn care today.