9 Winter Lawn Care Tips for a Greener Spring
The gloomy, dark days of winter are upon us, and at this time of the year, it may seem like spring will never come. Will your lawn ever be green again?
Never fear. In just a couple short months, the snow will melt and you’ll be back to your regular routine of mowing, mulching, and maintaining your pristine green spaces. However, that doesn’t mean your lawn chores should wait until April. There are several key steps you should be taking now to ensure that your lawn is verdant and healthy this spring.
1. Take care of business, before the first snowfall
Before snow falls is the optimal time to prep your lawn for spring. Make sure you fertilize and or provide a winter sealant before the first flakes fall, and pack away any lawn furniture or debris. Rake, mulch, or mow dead leaves and take care of any patches that have become too damp or moldy. You should also consider removing weeds from any troublesome areas. Weeds can reappear between seasons, and often come back more aggressively than before. To weed, either pull unwanted plants by hand or use the bag attachment on your mower to remove any remaining seeds.
2. Continue to mow and water
Don’t put your mower away until the first hard freeze. Your grass still needs regular cuts and should be maintained at a two-to three inch height. As winter approaches, reduce the cutting height of your mower so that the grass is not cut too short going into the winter months. If you don’t mow, your grass will be more susceptible to snow mold and other fungi.
As winter sets in, you should continue to mow at least once a month if you live in an area free of snow and sub-freezing temperatures. If you live in a place like Tampa, where 92% of residents are mowing bi-weekly even in the cooler months, you’ll want to water regularly to replenish your lawn. Safe to say, southern regions will want to keep up with both mowing and watering even in the cooler months.
3. Aerate and seed
Early in the winter or, ideally, late in the fall, you should also aerate and reseed your lawn. Reseed with a cool-weather blend, and aerate to allow oxygen, water, and other nutrients to reach deep down into the soil. Visit your local nursery or home improvement store to find out what the best seed for your lawn is.
If you receive a heavy snowfall, mulch before the first expected freeze. If you don’t receive much snow, you can mulch repeatedly throughout the winter months. Mulch will help protect the delicate roots of your grass and other lawn plants, shielding it against the dry, damaging winter winds.
While you should fertilize cool season grasses before winter hits, you should also be sure to fertilize during the cold months. Most lawns in North America are comprised of cool season grasses, and benefit from a winter fertilization. When the weather is cold, fertilizer remains in the soil longer and helps to feed roots all winter.
6. Tidy up
Before the first snowfall but especially throughout the winter, be sure to remove any toys, debris, furniture, or even stray logs and branches from your property. These things are easy to overlook, but can cause large dead spots due to their weight. In addition, smaller items may be picked up by snow blowers, or even the mower if you neglect them in the spring.
7. Prepare for plowing
Whether you plow your driveway yourself or pay to have it done, make sure you mark the edge of your lawn so it’s clear where snow should be pushed. Use small stakes or flags to measure your lawn’s boundaries, and make it clear to plow truck operators that those boundaries shouldn’t be infringed upon.
8. Avoid additional traffic
Prevent any foot or vehicle traffic when grass is brown or covered in snow and ice. Keep your sidewalks and entryways clear so that walking across the lawn is unnecessary, and never park on the lawn. Even a small vehicle can leave impressions in the soil and will kill the grass beneath the snow.
9. Stay on schedule
In the spring, get back to your regular routine of watering, mowing, and mulching. Be sure you don’t procrastinate on your lawn chores until summer. Early spring is the optimal time to get your grass back to its lush, green, and healthy self.