Winter Lawn Care Tips
How to Spur Spring Growth in Winter
Think winter is an excuse to forget about your lawn? Think again!
Autumn and winter lawn care is critical if you want a vibrant lawn in the spring. If you live in an area with heavy snow and ice storms, you especially need to fortify your lawn and protect it during winter.
The following winter lawn maintenance tips will help you put your lawn in the best shape this winter.
Mow as Long as You Can
Once summer ends, it's time to put the mower away, right? Not quite.
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.
Aerate Your Lawn
Have you ever aerated your lawn? Aerating involves poking holes in the ground to loosen up the soil and allow more oxygen to penetrate. This fosters better nutrient absorption, drainage, and healthier grass roots. In other words, your soil will “breathe” better.
You should aerate your lawn before the ground has frozen to both make it easier on yourself and allow time for the extra air and nutrients to sink in before winter.
To aerate your lawn, you can either poke holes with a pitchfork or use a lawn aerator (much easier). Read our lawn aeration guide for more details.
Winter Lawn Fertilizer
If you’re wondering, “when should I put winter lawn fertilizer on my lawn,” the answer is before the ground freezes.
Early fall is one of the best times to use winter lawn fertilizer, especially if you live in a cool climate. Even late fall might be recommended, depending on the quality of your lawn.
During the sweltering summer season, your soil can lose a lot of its nutrients. A pre-winter fertilizer treatment can replenish your soil and strengthen the grass for the cold months ahead. It’s one of the best ways to prepare your lawn for winter.
Indeed, once Old Man Winter arrives, your soil and roots will continue to be fertilized all season long. This will jumpstart your growth in the spring.
Clear Out Lawn Debris
If you have branches, leaves, and other debris on your lawn, you should clear it out before winter. Letting it sit can compact the soil, starve the grass of nutrients, and cause bare spots to appear in the spring.
When it comes to leaves, we recommend mulching them into tiny pieces that will decompose and add nutrients into the soil over the winter. This will promote a healthy future lawn and isn’t hard to do. Check out our guide on leaf mulching.
Minimize Snow Piles and Ice
While most winter lawn care work is done during autumn, this next tip requires you to actively protect your grass during winter.
You can’t control how much snow falls. However, when you shovel your driveway or deck, don’t throw all the snow onto one mountainous heap. As fun as it may be to create Mount Everest on your lawn, all that weight will crush and kill the grass beneath. Deposit your snow in even piles spread across the lawn.
Also, try to avoid letting too much ice accumulate on your grass. When ice thaws and refreezes, it can wreak havoc on your yard. 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. Watering your lawn when temperature reach above freezing can help flush the salt out.
Avoid Walking on Your Lawn
Part of winter lawn care involves avoiding excessive foot traffic on your lawn. 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.
Perform Equipment Maintenance
Besides the winter grass maintenance that we described above, the offseason is also a great time to perform much-needed equipment maintenance.
Instead of rushing to accomplish all this in early spring, you might as well get a head start in winter.
Winter Lawn Treatment
Preparing your lawn for winter and practicing proper winter lawn care during the season itself is important for having beautiful grass during spring. Fertilizing, aerating, avoiding snow piles, and the other tips we dicussed are key. We wish you much success in your winter lawn care!
Main | Watering | Aerating | Dethatching | Fertilizing | Mowing | Planting Grass Seed | Laying Sod | Prepping for Winter | Fixing Brown Spots