I have seen a lot of damaged lawns due to neglect, particularly over the winter months. I have provided this list of steps to help you in preparing a lawn for winter. During winter grass becomes dormant because of low temperatures, and there is not enough sun. Winter is when the grass is most vulnerable to damage.
Preparing A Lawn For Winter Tasks
- Clean up leaves and debris
- Eliminate weeds
- Mow Lawn
- Aerate the lawn
- Fertilize before the snow arrives
- Fix bare areas/re-seeding
- Reduce irrigation gradually
- Prevent mosquitoes
- Take care of lawn furniture and statuaries.
Clean Up Leaves and Debris
The first thing you should do in preparation for winter is to collect any debris on your lawn since debris can severely damage your lawn. Remove any debris, including children’s toys, branches, rocks, and many more.
In autumn, trees shed their leaves, and many of these leaves end up on your lawn. As a result, you need to rake leaves too. Debris can smother your turf and affect the growth of grass. Sometimes, the smothering kills grass.
Raking leaves is crucial because when you leave too many leaves on your lawn; they can become damp and cause fungal diseases that damage grass. You can rake leaves and leave them in a compost pile. Recycling leaves is always a wise option because leaves possess beneficial nutrients.
Weeds such as bindii thrive in the cold season, and if you do not remove these weeds before the winter season, they will flourish. You will only notice them during summer when walking barefoot on your lawn. The feeling of stepping on bindiis is not pleasant. Watch out for them in the fall and if you spot them, use a weed killer created explicitly for use on bindiis.
The best time to use a weed killer on bindiis is when autumn is nearly over or when winter has just arrived. Alternatively, you can decide to pluck them manually using your hands after the cold season if you don’t want to use weed killer. Pluck them out before they flower, and remember to watch out for other weeds such as ground ivy and dandelion.
Mowing a lawn in preparation for winter is one of the most beneficial practices. During winter, snow covers the grass on your turf. If you choose to stop mowing when the fall season arrives, the grass will grow too long. When the snow falls on very long grass, the grass might layover on itself because the snow cover applies pressure to it, causing an interruption of airflow.
Mow your turf to the usual height, usually around 2 to 3 inches. However, you must always check the recommended length for the grass you have on your lawn. When you mow the grass and leave it at the right height, you protect it from the fungus that thrives in snow.
Aerate the Lawn
You can aerate your turf in spring, but you also need to aerate it in the fall season. Aerating a lawn involves pricking the soil with tiny holes to lessen compaction and allow for the free movement of water, air, and nutrients to the grassroots.
When preparing the lawn for winter, you should focus on building grassroots, and aeration is one way to do so. Be careful not to over-aerate because that can damage the grass.
To ensure you aerate correctly, select an aerator best suited for your lawn. On smaller lawns, you can use a manual aerator. However, if you own a large turf, you should aerate using a power aerator.
Fertilize Before the Snow Arrives
Fertilize the lawn using a winter fertilizer after clearing it of leaves and debris, and aerating it. Your lawn might not use up all the nutrients during winter because it will be in a dormant stage, but immediately the warm weather kicks in, you can be sure that the lawn will use up the remaining nutrients.
Fertilizer strengthens the lawn throughout the cold months. When applying fertilizer to the lawn, make sure the entire lawn receives enough of it, and that you water the fertilizer into the lawn to ensure the grass absorbs nutrients.
Fix Bare Areas/Reseeding
Survey your lawn, and if the whole of it looks bare, re-seed the whole area. However, if only a few spots look bare, re-seed only those parts. Bare patches on a lawn occur because of various reasons such as pet urine and wear and tear.
Therefore, before you re-seed on any bare patches, you first need to find out why they exist in the first place. For instance, some grass species don’t thrive under shades, and if you plant such grass under trees, it might refuse to grow.
To correct this, you need to re-sow, in that same area, a different type of grass that does not depend on too much sunlight and can survive under a shade. The cool temperatures and the moisture will make it easy to re-sow in the fall.
Spreading compost on a lawn is very useful, especially after aeration, because compost cover protects the gaps left in the ground after the aeration process. If you have a compost bin, you can put the leaves you had raked from your lawn and piled them up to create your compost. Spread it on your turf to provide the grass with minerals contained in leaves.
To get the leaves to break down much faster, use a mower to crush them into fine pieces before throwing them into the composite bin. The rain will also help in the breaking down of nutrients. You can as well turn the leaves over manually to help with the breaking down process.
Reduce Lawn Watering Gradually
Do not stop irrigating/watering the grass on your lawn just because winter is near. Instead, you should reduce the amount of irrigation gradually as the moisture content in the atmosphere increases.
Only stop irrigating the turf once the ground freezes. There is no need to water grass once the ground freezes because the freezing action will prevent water from reaching grassroots.
This practice is one that many don’t remember when preparing their lawn for winter. It is not a practice aimed at protecting the grass on your turf, but one aimed at protecting you.
In preparation for winter, you should ensure that your lawn will not collect stagnant water. Survey your turf carefully and work on any areas that can hold stagnant waters. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters around the home. Therefore, if you provide them with a breeding place during winter, they will attack you in return.
You should remove anything that looks like it can collect stagnant water, regardless of how small it is, from the lawn. Anything from garden pots to bottle caps can play host to mosquito eggs. Therefore, ensure you thoroughly inspect your pots to ensure they will not hold still water.
If you have a birdbath or any other waterbodies that you can’t do without, you will need to keep replacing the water daily, even during the winter season.
Take Care of Lawn Furniture and Statuaries
Lawn furniture is an integral part of the lawn. It is on that furniture that you host your family and your favorite friends. Therefore, you want to ensure that as you protect the lawn grass from the winter cold, you also preserve the lawn furniture.
Move any moveable furniture into the house, and cover any furniture that you cannot move into the house. Leaving lawn furniture out in the cold and rain could ruin them. If you have clay pots and any other outdoor statuaries, take them indoors because the unbalanced freezing and warming of such items can make them crack.
Prevent damage to your lawn by preparing it for winter early in advance because winter can significantly damage your turf if you fail to prepare. Clean up the lawn, mow, aerate the ground, fertilize, and re-seed in bare areas of the turf before winter to ensure your turf remains in a healthy condition during and after winter.
Additionally, work on areas around your lawn that can collect stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in such areas. Do not forget about your favorite lawn furniture and statuaries because you will need them in spring and summer. Invest time and energy conducting these preparations, and you will be proud of your lawn when the cold season passes.