During the winter, we spend less time on our yards because it is usually covered with snow. For most people, taking care of the lawn is the last thing on their mind. However, there are excellent winter lawn care concepts to consider to ensure your lawn stays healthy.
The best time to fertilize your cool-season grasses is early winter or late fall. And most lawn experts concur that if you fertilize your lawn only once a year, the right time to do it is in the fall. Remember, grass leaves grow slowly when the weather turns cool, but the grass rhizomes and roots continue proliferating. Rhizomes are the grass stems that lie just beneath the surface of the soil, and they give rise to the roots below and the grass blades above. Applying fertilizer during fall provides vital nutrients for the grass to develop deep roots and to reserve some nutrients for a healthy start when spring comes.
Thus, spread a dry lawn fertilizer to all the grassy areas during mid-to-late fall, and ensure you don’t miss any points. You can use a broadcast spreader or a walk-behind drop spreader, although the drop spreader provides the best solution for spreading a consistent, even layer of fertilizer.
2. Keep mowing and watering.
Throughout the fall, continue watering and mowing your lawn as required. As the season comes to an end, set your mower’s blade to the lowest level for the two final cuttings of the year. Doing this allows sufficient sunlight to penetrate to the crown of the grass, and fewer leaves will turn brown during the winter. Remember, as you lower the blade, avoid trimming off more than one-third of the grass blades any single time.
3. Aerate the lawn.
Fall is the perfect time for aerating your lawn to enable the oxygen, fertilizer, and water to reach the roots of the grass. You can use a spade to remove spikes of soil across to create holes for planting seeds. You can hire a gas-powered, walk-behind aerator at a fee of about $75 per day. This self-driven machine quickly punches holes on the ground and removes plugs of dirt. However, if you have a huge yard of more than four acres and you find it difficult to aerate it yourself, consider hiring a landscaping contractor.
4. Fill in the bald areas.
Autumn is an excellent time of the year to fix any bald, bare spots in your lawn. The most straightforward and quickest way to achieve this is using an all-in-one lawn repair mixture. These ready-to-use mixes are sold in most home centers and garden shops, and they contain grass seeds, organic mulch, and a unique quick-starter lawn fertilizer.
Consider using a garden rake to set the soil loose at the bare areas in your lawn. Then distribute a thick layer of the lawn repair mixture in the area. Gently compress the mixture before thoroughly watering it, and continue watering it every day for at least two weeks.
5. Keep it clean.
Raking leaves is not fun for many people. However, it is crucial to eliminate fallen leaves from your grass as soon as possible. Avoid waiting until all the leaves have dropped from the trees before you start raking. Otherwise, the leaves will become damp from morning dew and rain, stick together and create an impenetrable carpet that if left unmoved, will beget fungal diseases and choke the grass.
Another option for raking the leaves is using a lawnmower fitted with a vacuum system or collection bag. These techniques are effective, especially if you have a very large yard containing deciduous trees. However, whether you use a lawnmower or a rake, ensure you remove the leaves before they become a drenched, choking mess.
6. Avoid immoderate lawn traffic.
When the grass is short and brown, people often tend to forget not to walk on it. Try to prevent excess foot traffic on your lawn during winter. Although grass is moderately resilient, it will have trouble recovering if a well-worn path is made across the lawn. Thus, never allow anyone to park a car or truck on your lawn. Even a small vehicle will leave significant depressions in the soil and kill the grass beneath the tires. Also, clear all ice from your sidewalks, so you and your guests aren’t lured to cut across the yard quite often.
Winters are usually unpredictable and may put the lawn through severe conditions as the season persists. The solution is to ensure the grass is protected and well-kept. Thus, fertilize your lawn and keep mowing it for best results. Also, keep the lawn well-aerated and avoid unnecessary traffic over the lawn.