After a long summer of watering your lawn and trimming your shrubs, it’s time to change gears for the fall and winter. Though your yard should require a lot less watering and mowing, there’s still a lot of work to be done before you can let your lawn go dormant for the winter. Before you focus on staying warm indoors, here are a few important things to prepare your yard for the winter temperatures.
Get Rid of Those Leaves
It’s a pain in the neck (and the back) to rake up the leaves covering your lawn as your trees slowly change colors throughout the fall. But raking and removing leaves from your lawn is important to its health. While it may look dead, your lawn typically only goes dormant during the winter months. A thick carpet of leaves will smother your lawn, keeping the few nutrients it actually does need to survive the cold.
Lay Down Fertilizer
This may seem counterintuitive, since your yard is about to go into hibernation mode, but adding fertilizer can ensure that your lawn comes back strong and hardy come the spring bloom. Typically, you’ll want to add a winterizing fertilizer like Scotts to your lawn and garden just before the ground freezes, around Thanksgiving.
You don’t need to water too much during early autumn, as fall storms often bring plenty of rain to hold your grass over as it prepares to go dormant. But, you’ll want to give your lawn a deep watering just before the ground freezes to help activate your fertilizer. If you’re unsure of when to do this watering, you can use a hydrogel soil conditioner like Soil20 before watering that will hold water near your yard’s roots until it needs to be released.
Mow One Last Time
As your lawn begins to go dormant, you can drop your mowing height to about an inch for warm-weather grass like Bermuda grass, or two inches for cold-weather grasses like Kentucky bluegrass. Having tall grass during the winter can trap excess moisture, which can aid the development of diseases or pests once the ground thaws in the spring.
Treat for Pests
When it comes to yard pests, the best offense is a good defense. Adding horticultural oils to your lawn as you prepare for winter can be a great way to stop pests who hide in your grass during winter from coming back in spring along with your grass. The oils, which are safe for your plants, smother pests and insects in your lawn, so you don’t have to deal with them in spring. Though you can apply it yourself, I find it better to use my local pest control company Florida Pest Control, which adds it on to my normal treatments.
Give It Some Breathing Space
Lawn aeration can be crucial for a healthy lawn. Summer activities and storms can often compact your yard, choking your lawn’s roots from vital nutrients. Aerators use blades or plugs to punch holes in your grass to allow air, water and nutrients to flow down to the roots.
Drain Your Sprinklers
This is especially important in cold-weather areas with hard ground freezes. Frozen – and then burst – pipes are a nightmare to fix in the spring, so make sure your sprinkler system is drained and closed before the ground freezes. If you need to water your lawn during a light winter, use a hose once a month to give a brief watering.
Rainier Fuclan is a freelance writer and enjoys gardening with his family hoping for a great yield of vegetables and herbs