Keeping your grass pristine through the colder months this winter can be a breeze when you winterizing your lawn. The harsh winter is rough on your turf, but the process of preparing your yard for lower temps will build your lawn’s tolerance to damage and extreme cold, so it will be lush and healthy this spring. The earlier you begin winterizing your grass, the more manageable it will be when warmer weather arrives.
Step One – Remove the Weeds
Only protect the plants in your yard that matter. Unwanted plants compete for nutrients with the rest of your lawn, so it’s important to remove weeds before doing anything else when winterizing the lawn.
Step Two – Fertilize
As temperatures begin to really drop and the days are shorter, your plants slow their growth and move their food storage from their leaves to their roots in response. Your lawn has built its food reserves to maintain itself through the cold winter. The health of your lawn now will determine how it might thrive when spring comes. This is why fertilization is so important and effective during this time.
Spread the fertilizer across your lawn using a spreader. Follow the directions on your fertilizer and apply the recommended amount. Do not use more than recommended as this could burn your grass. But don’t use less than recommended as your lawn may starve.
Step Three – Aerate
Aeration allows water, air, sunlight, and other nutrients to reach down into the roots of your grass by reducing soil compaction and excess thatch. This improves root growth which is especially helpful during winter since the plants are storing nutrients in their roots. This is best to do in the early to mid-spring.
Aerate your lawn using a motorized or manual aerator, both of which you can find at a local home improvement center for purchase or rental.
Step Four – Spread Grass Seed
The best temperatures for growing new grass are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Make sure to purchase cool-weather grass seed*. Then, you may spread it across your lawn using the same spreader you used for the fertilizer or a hand-held spreader. Make sure to distribute the seeds evenly across your lawn.
*This is for fescue, not bermuda grass types.
Step Five – Cover your Garden Beds
Keep your flower and vegetable gardens warm this winter. Cover their topsoil with mulch or burlap for protection and insulation. For even smaller plants, re-pot them and bring them inside for the winter. If you leave near lots of trees, you may need to cover your shrubbery as rabbits will use what’s left for food, and squirrels will bury their noms there.
Step Six – Rake, Water, and Mow
Raking your lawn removes excess thatch that prevents important nutrients from reaching the lawn’s roots. It also breaks up clumps of soil and covers any exposed seeds. Continue to rake the lawn throughout the fall and winter when you notice it’s covered with leaves and debris.
Gently water your lawn as soon as you plant the seeds, and then continue to keep the lawn moist. Do not over-water it or let it become too dry.
Mow your lawn about half an inch to an inch higher than you do during the summer if it needs mowing at all during the winter. Be sure the last time you mow your lawn this winter, lower your mowing height to about half an inch below your summer mowing height. If you have a mulching mower, use the clippings on your lawn as mulch.
Winterizing your lawn is an important process for the health of your grass. By following these steps and maintaining your lawn this winter, you will have a lush lawn this spring.