We often don’t think about lawn care in the winter, but we probably should.
While you may be more inclined to investigate snow blowers than to think about your lawn mower, there are some important treatment and maintenance tips you can follow just before and during the winter to have a greener, fuller, healthier lawn by summer.
Your grass will keep growing as long as the daytime temperature stays above 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass grow more actively in the fall and the spring. As long as your grass is growing, keep it healthy by continuing to cut it at the recommended height.
When autumn arrives, you should start gradually lowering your lawn mower's height for a shorter cut. If you leave your grass too long, your yard may attract pests that burrow in cold weather:
Your goal should be to have your grass relatively short, around two inches tall, by late fall or early winter. Mowing your grass this way late into the season helps spur new growth up until dormancy, which is healthier for your lawn.
Fertilize Before the Winter
Believe it or not, early fall is one of the best times to fertilize your grass if you live in a cool climate. Even late fall might be recommended depending on the quality of your lawn.
Fertilize your lawn before the first freeze arrives. During the sweltering summer season, your soil can lose a lot of its nutrients. An autumn fertilizer treatment can replenish your soil and give your cool-season grass what it needs to grow while it's most active.
Plus, once the cold weather arrives, your soil and roots will continue to be fertilized all winter long. This will jumpstart your growth in the spring.
Don't Let Ice Build on Your Lawn
We all expect some snow to accumulate on our lawns over the winter. A low, consistent level of snow across your grass throughout the winter can actually help protect from drying out due to winter winds.
But try to avoid letting too much ice build up on your grass. When ice thaws and refreezes, it can wreak havoc on your yard. Do what you can to remove ice deposits from your lawn and keep it dry.
That said, you should be careful when using rock salt or other ice-melting agents on your grass. If used too often or in large quantities, the salt can damage your lawn.
Avoid Walking on Your Lawn
Avoid excessive foot traffic on your lawn during the winter months. Although your grass can withstand some wear and tear, repetitive traffic risks damaging the crowns of your grass. These areas may have trouble recovering in spring.
It’s a good idea to keep your sidewalk and driveway paths clear of snow so that no one is tempted to take a shortcut.
More importantly, don’t allow anyone to park on your grass during the winter. The weight of the car and traction from tire marks will easily kill your grass during the cold season.
Follow these tips, and your lawn is likely to have a great period of growth in the spring and summer.