Although winter may be fast approaching, now isn’t the time to forget about lawn care. In fact, the best way to improve your chances of a having a beautiful lawn next is by prepping your grass now. It’s called winterizing your lawn, and it’s easier than you might think.
While grass goes dormant in the winter, it doesn’t mean it should be cared for during the fall. There are many different types of grasses, and some of them actually grow the best during cool seasons. These types would be Kentucky bluegrass, fescue or perennial ryegrass. Even if you have warm-season growers like Bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede or zoysia, all grasses will benefit from some carefully planned fall-to-winter preparations. After your last grass cutting, being careful to leave it between two to three inches, lawn, edge your lawn and remove any visible weeds.
This way you can tailor your treatments and fertilizers for maximum effectiveness. Fertilizing is the second most important aspect of winterizing because the plants are already in full swing preparing for winter. As cool weather approaches, plants start to respond to external factors like temperature and sunlight exposure to prepare their leaves and roots for winter dormancy.
Applying fertilizer is best done between October and November. Plants, including grass, begin to relocate their nutrients from stems or leaves down toward the roots. Because this is an active process, fertilizing in the fall directly helps the roots absorb the nutrients that will sustain them through winter. As spring comes, the process reverses and the grass blades take from the roots to jumpstart their growth. Grasses that received fall fertilizer have a head start on nutrient supply, triggering lush, thick growth. A quality winter fertilizer will be heavy in potassium, which is aimed to strengthen roots.
In keeping with fertilizer, you also winterize your lawn by aerating and laying new seed. When you aerate, you loosen the hardened areas of dirt, giving roots a chance to spread out and grow. Even though the top may have gone dormant, there is growth still happening underground. After tilling, planting new seed sets the stage for great spring grass. The weather during the fall is a great time for grass seedling to settle in and take root before dormancy sets in. By having strong roots by spring, your grass should be able to withstand the heavy rains and climbing temperatures of spring.
You also need to proactively remove leaf debris and other materials covering your lawn. As moisture collects under the debris, it dampens the grass and creates the perfect environment for mold or other diseases to grow. You can either rake or blow leaves off the lawn entirely, or you can mulch them into smaller pieces. This makes it easier for them to dissipate in the wind.
While not directly benefiting your winter lawn, take advantage of the slower season to give your lawn tools the maintenance and repair they need. Give your lawnmower or other equipment a tune-up, and sharpen and oil blades on trimmers. It will put in ahead of schedule next spring when it’s time to get started!
While it would seem that winter can be downtime for the avid green thumb, having a great lush lawn takes a year’s worth of effort. Some simple maintenance and attention during cooler weather will pay off during spring growth and sunny days.