Winter lawn care is possible if you know how to prepare your yard for the harshest weather conditions. Many people opt out of taking care of their meadows during the colder months, but neglecting your lawn could ruin it for future summers. If some preventative maintenance is done before winter begins, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve that lush green grass that you desire.
Fall is the time for fertilizing your lawn to give it enough nutrients to get through the winter months. This process must be done before the ground becomes completely frozen in the winter, since it would be difficult to properly water an already hardening soil (which means any fertilizer or seed spread onto hard ground would simply be a waste of time and money).
Once the forsythia blooms and the magnolia trees start to lose their petals, that means that it’s time to put down fresh, new grass seed. Even if you didn’t get a chance to fertilize your lawn in the autumn months, seeding it now will give you a great chance at getting a green and healthy lawn to look forward to in the springtime.
Watering your grass is also important, so it’s suggested that you start sprinkling each night before it snows. By doing this, you’ll help insulate the ground from freezing (and protect against frost heave). It will take longer to see results with this method, but it will be well worth the wait.
Aerating, fertilizing, seeding and watering are all key components in winter lawn care, but the final step is equally as important: weeds. If you don’t eliminate these unsightly plants now, they’ll grow into a bigger problem during the spring and summer months.
Aerating your lawn for winter
There are several reasons why people believe it’s not a good idea to aerate the soil in winter. One is that grass stops growing in cold weather. Although this is true, it is no reason to stop aerating your lawn during winter! When you aerate the grass, the holes that are left behind slowly fill with mulch and organic matter. This happens naturally as dead grass decomposes over time; there’s nothing you need to do about it. The same principle applies to aerating the soil in winter. Although it might be colder outside, grass still has roots that are actively growing. A common mistake is thinking that an icy layer of snow around your yard means the ground is frozen solid all the way down. This can lead to confusion about whether or not you should keep on with lawn care and other activities such as tree care, removing snow, or raking leaves.
Above all else, remember that aerating the soil in winter is not dangerous for your grass. It does not hurt to aerate it during cold weather; there’s nothing you need to worry about! However, it’s important to be cautious about how you do this. You may want to skip the fertilizer or other lawn care products while it is cold. This means you should plan on aerating your grass early in winter while there’s still time to fertilize before spring arrives, so you don’t forget.
Aerating is the process of poking holes in your lawn to let some air into the soil. It is important because it gives some oxygen to your lawn’s roots, and it helps water and fertilizer get into the root zone (since that’s where the grass actually is). I’m going to go into detail about how you can aerate your lawn yourself with nothing but a few tools and a little bit of time.
Aerating on a budget
Before I say anything about how to aerate, let me just point out that there are all kinds of fancy attachments you can get for your lawn mower so you don’t have to do this yourself. You can get special “Aerators” or “Pluggers” that attach to your mower blades which poke nice big holes in the ground.
The problem is that they are expensive, and many people who have them don’t really know how to use them correctly. So you may not be getting the lawn benefits you’re hoping for. Instead of buying an Aerator that does half a job at twice the price, why not learn to do it correctly yourself on the cheap?
Fertilizing before winter
When you think about winter, most people think of cold weather, snow and not being able to go outside. While this is certainly true for some parts of the world, others experience warm temperatures during the colder months as well as a decreased amount of rainfall. In these cases fertilizing your lawn in winter can be done without much effort.
So what is different about fertilizing in the winter? Most chemical fertilizers are not very effective at colder temperatures, that’s why it is important to pay attention to step 2 below.
In addition, many people do not have a lawn at all during the winter, so this article is not for them.
- Mow your lawn to the desired height (usually between 3 and 4 inches). This will ensure that cold weather can get through your lawn and reach the roots where it does the most good. If you use a mulching lawnmower, it is especially important to mow the lawn as high as possible. This will allow for more decomposition and better melting of snow because the thin layer of grass clipping disappear almost entirely when the thin topcoat of snow melts away.
- Fertilize your lawn. Some fertilizers are better at cold weather than others. The two most common types of fertilizers, water soluble and slow-release, will both need to be adjusted for winter use.
Water Soluble Fertilizers:
- During the coldest months (usually December through February), water soluble fertilizers should only be applied once every two weeks at 1/3 strength.
- During the warmest months (usually June through August), water soluble fertilizers should be applied every week at full strength.
Slow Release Fertilizers:
-Apply slow release fertilizer in late summer or early autumn. Follow up with a light herbicide treatment to fight weeds and crabgrass, both of which will have trouble growing in cold weather.
-If applying slow release fertilizer in the winter, only do so once every two weeks and at 1/3 strength.
There are other types of fertilizers that work differently including organic fertilizers such as fish emulsions and others that need to be applied according to specific instructions.
- Don’t fertilize your lawn again until spring. Unless you have a very short growing season, or your lawn is in bad condition, don’t fertilize it at all until next winter.
If you are not sure if your fertilizer is good for the winter, check the label of your fertilizer bag. If it says “Winter Nursery Use Only” it is not safe for winter fertilizing.
Don’t forget that splitting up fertilizer applications is also a good idea in areas with cold winters including Alaska and the north-east US.
Stop mowing your lawn in winter
There are many reasons not to mow your lawn in winter. For one thing, there will likely be little if any grass growth between now and next spring, so you’ll be cutting off what little grass there is. Grass that doesn’t grow will especially hard to cut, since the lawn mower blades need something to hold onto in order to cut. Not only can it be tough on your lawnmower’s motor, but if you’re not careful it can damage the blades too.
Further, it’s not a good idea to feed your lawn in winter, because you could encourage further grass growth which may lead to increased thatch development and a higher mowing height when spring rolls around again. And lastly, if winds whip up between now and planting season in springtime, you don’t want your lawn to be any higher than it needs to be.
Why Lawn Mowing Should Stop Now
When it comes to winter lawn care, the time to stop cutting grass is before you get your first snowfall of the season. Snow cover provides several benefits for your lawn. First, even though many homeowners detest shoveling and plowing snow, it actually insulates the ground below it where your grass roots are located. If you have a foot or so of snow on top of the ground, that’s a great insulator and can help prevent damage to the grass beneath it from fluctuating temperatures as well as root damage from soil heaving.
In addition, not only will your lawn be easier to mow when snow comes since the clippings will be easy to see on top of the snow, but also there are other benefits to letting snow do your lawn work for you. For example, you don’t have any leaves or lawn debris or bugs being chopped up by your mower’s blades and dispersing into the air where they can cause allergies or breathing difficulties for your neighbors.
Lawn Seeding in Winter
If you live in a climate where it snows for most of the winter season, then seeding is a good choice for you. Seeding in winter is the best time because the cool soil gives the new grass roots a good start before summer’s heat and water restrictions arrive.
Newly seeded lawns in winter should be kept moist at all times, especially when it snows. Snow cover keeps the ground cool and moist which discourages weed growth.
Winter is a great time for those who have been procrastinating on reseeding. In December, it’s pretty simple as most fertilizers slow down their effects as days start getting colder. By January, this type of fertilizer has stopped doing anything for your lawn. It’s also the perfect time to use weed killers because they work better when it’s colder out anyway (and if you wait any longer than late winter, rain can wash them away).
By February most fertilizers are off the market and most people have finished their lawn care. If your lawn was in bad shape and you didn’t get the chance to fix it when you had the time, this is when it’s too late. You can still reseed during this season but if it doesn’t take root before spring, there’s nothing more you can do about it.
The best time to seed is when the ground isn’t frozen, but it’s also not too muddy. Typically this period lasts until winter hits its peak during January or February. Make sure your soil is in good condition (dry and well packed), then the chances of getting a healthy lawn increase dramatically.
If you live in an area where the winter is long and harsh, it’s best not to use your lawn mower during this period. If a single snow storm comes through and covers your grass, there’s no problem as the snow will be a good insulator for your soil. However, if you live in a place where rain is present throughout winter, you should avoid using your mower because water can cause your soil to swell and this will result in an uneven lawn.
If the grass on your yard has died or been damaged by disease, then there’s no need to wait until spring to fix up your yard. You can apply your fertilizer of choice and reseed or re-sod your lawn. If winter is long, then you might want to wait until next spring to get a new sod, but if you can’t wait that long, go ahead and do it. The more vegetation on the ground, the better off your lawn will be come spring.
Watering your lawn during winter
Water the grass only once a day . Just like your regular watering schedule, you should also avoid overwatering the lawn. Don’t forget that during winter, water freezes faster than in other seasons. It’s best to water as frequently as possible (once every 1-2 days) but lessen the amount of water each session.
Maintain at least ¼ inch of water on the grass’ soil . Since these months bring dryness, it would be helpful if you put mulch around trees and shrubs to prevent moisture loss from happening because of wind and cold air (which causes plant and soil dehydration). If your yard is mostly composed of flower beds and succulents rather than turf, just be sure that their soil is moist before the winter sets in.
Do not mow your lawn too low . Always think of your lawn as an investment, which it will always give you more than what you put into it. That said, you shouldn’t cut off more than one-third of its height because this would compromise the health and quality of your turf. If ever you want to remove less grass each time since wetness decreases significantly during winter months, invest in an electric or gas powered power mower.
Weeding during winter
If you want to get rid of weeds and other pests, then this is the time to buy an insect killer spray. These sprays are typically a compound containing a potent remedy for a wide variety of insects. Some brands even have fertilizers in them so your lawn can start off its spring greening right from the very beginning, but it’s up to you if you want both or just one or the other.
Weeding techniques for winter
Using a scissor or knife to cut them out, which is the best way if they come from the roots; – digging with your fingers to pull them out, such as dandelions; you can use your fingers instead of a fork, but only if the weed doesn’t have deep roots; – mowing over them with a lawn mower; – poison which is different from pesticide . You must always read carefully what it says on the package and follow all directions – applying chemicals not following all instruction may cause poisoning.
- Always wear gloves when weeding because your hands can get irritated and itchy, especially with poison.
- Always be careful when using a scissor or knife because you might cut yourself.