As fall progresses and winter looms over our heads, we at Think Crucial have started thinking about the holiday season and the joy that brings. One of the last things we want to think about is our front lawn, unless it’s how to space out the annual Christmas lights display. But, it’s worth thinking about; if only because we like the grass in the spring and summer. So before you put away the mower and store it for the winter, there are some things you need to take care of. These steps will ensure a bright and healthy green yard in the spring. We know that not everyone is as fastidious about their lawn as we are, so we listed these in order of importance. Start with the raking and do as much as you like, or stop at any step.
Don’t Leave The Leaves
While it is tempting to just throw the rake in the shed and forget about the leaves once the cold weather hits, don’t give in. Winter lawn care starts here. At the minimum, you want to remove any fallen leaves at least weekly. Don’t wait for the trees to finish dropping everything everywhere. A dense layer of leaves is great for the forest, but it’s not so great for grass. The leaves suffocate the grass, impede drainage, and can cause some bad fungal diseases to bloom. So get the rake out and remove all the dried grass and leaves before you move on. If you don’t do anything else for your lawn before winter, do this.
Mow It Down
Winter lawn care also means taking care with the last few mows of the year. Use two or three weekends to trim the grass down to 1-1/2 inches tall. This is going to make it easier for you to aerate your lawn as well as identify any trouble spots for patching. The reason you don’t want to just crop it all at once is that removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time will stress your lawn. Think of how cranky people get when they get a significant haircut. Now multiply that by a few hundred thousand, and that’s your lawn stressing out. Space out the cuts so your lawn has a week to recover and get used to it's new do.
Aeration isn’t something that most people do to their lawn; however, if you want your lawn to look spectacular in the spring, you should. Basically, you’re just poking holes in the ground. There are machines that you can rent from hardware stores if you have a larger yard, or you can use a manual model. The aeration allows oxygen, moisture, and fertilizer to get to the roots of your lawn, encouraging growth. After you’ve poked the holes in the dirt, make sure to use horticultural grade sand to fill them in. Gently rake the sand over your lawn. This allows the holes to remain and the aeration to continue while maintaining the integrity of your lawn.
Fertilize and Patch
Once the lawn is aerated and trimmed closely, you can identify areas that need patching. Use a seed spreader to reseed areas that are looking bare. Alternately, you can also use an all-in-one lawn repair mix. Before applying the mix, rake the bare spot to loosen the soil. Lay down the mix and tamp it down lightly. Water the mix immediately and then water it daily for two weeks.
Also take the time to lay down a good fertilizer. If you rarely fertilize, you should make sure you do it in the fall. That’s because even though the top of your lawn doesn’t grow as much, the root system and rhizomes are still spreading rapidly. The rhizomes are the structures that form the blades and the roots, so keeping them healthy is important. Apply a dry fertilizer with a walk-behind spreader to get consistent even coverage across the yard.
Out With The Bad
If you noticed a lot of dandelions or other weeds in your yard throughout the year, now is a great time to root them out. Like almost every plant in the northern hemisphere, weeds are trying to gather enough resources to make it through the winter. That means if you apply a good lawn herbicide, the weeds will just soak it up. Follow the directions on the packaging carefully, and you should notice a tremendous difference.
With these five tips, you can rest easy over the winter knowing that your lawn is going to be bright and green in the spring. Even if you aren’t a lawn-care fanatic, your yard can still benefit from one or more of these steps. If you aren’t comfortable with doing any of the steps, there are multiple qualified lawn care and landscaping companies that do this on a regular basis and would be happy to provide you with an inspection and quote. In the meantime, bundle up, break out the sweaters, and look forward to a great holiday and winter season.