If you were like me, you expected that when winter came, your lawn would take care of itself, and come spring, you would have a nice beautiful lawn again.
But I’ve learned through the years that you have to do a few things before the winter comes to make sure your lawn comes back the most beautiful it can.
Tips for preparing your lawn for winter include mulching fallen leaves, cutting your grass short, aerating your lawn, overseeding your lawn, slowing down your watering, avoiding walking on the grass, planting perennials for the following year, checking your fencing, and checking the levels in your soil.
Read on to find if there is anything you miss doing each year.
Mulch fallen leaves
As the fall comes to a close, the last of the leaves are going to fall off the tree and land into your yard.
And as you’ve done in the earlier parts of the fall, you will be tempted to rake up the leaves and throw them away or place them in your compost pile.
But in the case of the late fall, you will want to do something different.
Instead of raking up the leaves, you should pull out your lawn mowing.
Make sure to remove the bag from your lawnmower before you start.
Because if you run the lawnmower with the bag still on, you just essentially just raking up the leaves.
With the bag off, however, your lawnmower will do the mulching for you.
It will mulch the leaves and then place it back on your lawn.
And this is a good thing.
You see, the mulched-up leaves are going to give you two things.
First, they are going to provide your lawn with some nutrients that it could use during the winter season.
And second, they are going to provide a thin layer of coverage from the winter.
This layer of coverage should help the killing off of the grass that sometimes occurs during the cold weather.
So instead of raking up your leaves, do your lawn a favor and mulch them up.
Cut your grass short
You will want to get your grass short in preparation for the winter season.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, the short grass means that the grass is less likely to get a frost on it that will kill the grass to the root.
And really the whole point is to avoid killing off your grass.
Second, it gives it a nice look going into the winter season.
But you can’t do it all at first.
If you cut off too much grass all at once, this will cause damage to the grass and could end up killing it.
So instead of doing it all at once, you need to do it gradually.
It is recommended that you don’t cut off more than one-third of the grass at a time.
So, for example, your grass is three inches tall.
At first cut, set your lawnmower so it cuts off 1 inch of the grass.
Then wait a few days or up to a week and then set the lawnmower height so you cut off another inch from the grass.
That way, you aren’t causing too much damage to the grass and give it time to recover between each cutting.
Aerate your lawn
Now that you have your grass nice and low, then you should take the opportunity to aerate your lawn.
Aeration is the process of putting holes in the soil to allow more oxygen and fertilizer into the soil.
This in turn helps the grass to get the nutrients it needs and to help protect it from the coming winter season.
There are a few options for aerating your lawn.
You can get a spike aerator here.
This is good for smaller yards where it might take you 30 to 60 minutes to do the whole yard.
In our case, we have almost a whole acre of grass to aerate, so the spike above would take a really long time to do the whole yard.
For a larger yard, you might want to get an attachment to a riding lawnmower here.
This could allow you to mow and lawn and also aerate it in one shot.
If both of those options won’t work for you, then you can always get the boot attachments here.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
The boot attachments look nice and make the job easy, but they also take a lot of work too.
We have found that as you walk along the yard, the attachments actually get stuck in the ground and you either have to bend over to pull it out or it falls off of your boot
This means it takes even more time and you spent a lot of time bending over to put the attachment back on.
Overseed your lawn
Fall means that the sun is starting to settle and the temperature isn’t so hot.
The summer is the worst time to be seeding your garden because the heat means you are either watering your lawn all the time or your grass seed is dying.
But come fall, it’s the perfect time to plant new grass seed in your yard because the temperature isn’t too hot.
So first you need to buy your seed at your local hardware store.
Then go home and pull out your grass seed spreader.
Then place the seed in your spreader.
Instead of using the given pattern size on your seed bag, you will want to use a more concentrated spread for your seeds.
This means you are putting more seeds per square inch than you normally would.
Hence why it is called “overseeding”.
Then walk around your lawn spread the seeds.
Afterward, make sure to give your seeds a little bit of water and then continue watering them until the frost comes.
This should prepare your seeds for once winter is over and the spring begins.
Slow down your watering
Before the frost comes, you will want to slow down the watering of your lawn.
When you stop the watering, the grass takes this as a sign that they need to start going dormant.
And when the grass goes dormant, this means they stop working so hard to grow.
In the case of the spring or summer, if you stopped watering, the grass would eventually die.
But in the case of the winter, the dormant grass survives the cold weather.
This is much like how bears work with hibernation.
If a bear doesn’t eat while it isn’t hibernating, it will die.
But a bear knows when it is about to go into hibernation, so it builds up all the resources it needs for the wintertime.
This is the same for grass.
So before the frost comes, if you have a watering timer set up, let it run one more time and then turn it off.
If you have hoses out for the watering, turn off the watering them and then put the hoses away.
If you have above-ground sprinklers, put those away as well.
Avoid walking on the grass
Now you’ve got the grass all ready for winter.
Since you got it into that situation, then you need to try hard to stay off of the grass.
According to Spring-Green.com:
Here’s the thing: Whether we’re walking around the side of the house to the shed, out back to the garage, or to some other frequented destination, most of us walk the same path until we’ve packed down that snow tighter than a sumo wrestler in a smart car. Dogs can be a problem, too: they don’t like to get their paws cold, so once they’ve worn down a path through the yard, you can bet they’ll stick to it when they go outside to do their business.
The problem? Walking that same path over and over throughout the winter can really take a toll on your lawn. Come spring, you’ll notice that it’s the last area to green up, and might even struggle to thrive all season. Traversing on snow-covered grass causes compaction, which can damage the tops of the grass plants or create conditions for snow mold, a fungal disease, to develop. The same is true for grass with a layer of frost on it: Unlike in the warm months, when grass is elastic, trekking across frost-covered grass will break the plants and slow their recovery in the spring.https://www.spring-green.com/blog-damaging-lawn-walking/
So as we walk on the lawn, we seem to walk the same path every time.
And then causes the snow to be compacted, which doesn’t allow the grass to breathe.
It also means it is the last grass to recover during springtime.
So it is really the best idea to avoid walking on the grass once the frost has come.
Plant perennials for the following year
The great thing about perennials is that they are going to come up every year.
So one year you plant them and then if you take care of them from then on out, they will continue to come up for you.
Just before winter, you will want to plant your perennials.
The perennials will overwinter in the ground, allowing the snow to water it as it prepares for the spring.
Once spring comes up, the perennials will show themselves as one of the first signs of life.
And of course, it is going to be easier to dig right before winter than it would be right after winter.
So if you want to have some nice-looking plants coming up in early spring, then plant your perennials before the winter comes.
Check your fencing
During the wintertime, all kinds of animals are going to try to get to your lawn.
This might be because they find your yard is a nice shortcut to where they are going.
Or they might have some kind of vegetation in your yard that they want to try to eat.
Either way, you need to do your best to keep the animals out so your lawn can be protected.
So the best thing you can do is walk around the yard and check the fence to see if there is anything that needs to be fixed.
First, check for holes at ground level.
If some animals are going to get through the fence, it is most likely going to be at the bottom of the fence since those will be the easiest to get through.
You can use some zip ties to cover up some holes in the fence, so have some of those handy if there is anything you need to fix.
Also, make sure that the fencing is still attached to the post and if they are not, do something about it.
We have a staple gun we use to connect fencing to wooden posts.
Go around the whole yard and fix anything that might need to be fixed.
Check the levels in your soil
It should be relatively easy to check the ph levels in your soil.
You can purchase a tester here.
Once you have the testing, take it home and test the levels in your soil.
If your lawn has too much salt in it, then you will want to add some lime to the soil.
For anything else, compost or fertilizer should do enough to help your ph level.
If you need additional help, consult someone at your local nursery to figure out what else can be done.
Make sure that as winter is coming, you prepare your yard for the coming cold weather.
Be sure to know when the first frost is going to happen because you are going to want to take all of your steps before then.
These steps include mowing and aerating your lawn, mulch fallen leaves, overseed the lawn, do your last watering, check the fencing and the ph levels of the soil, and plant the perennials for the following year.
And as you take all of these steps, your lawn and yard should be in pretty good shape for the next year.