Helping Your Lawn Survive the Winter
You’ve worked your butt off through spring and one of the hottest summers on record to ensure your lawn is lush and green moving into the fall. So the last thing you want to see is dead, yellow grass peeking out from the melting snow next year. That’s why the next few weeks are the most important part of your annual lawn care regimen.
Check out this action plan from a fellow lawn-obsessed homeowner (me), and you can stop worrying about getting your lawn through this winter.
Know Your Grass
If you didn’t plant your lawn, you might not know what kind of grass you have. In general, there are two types – cool-weather and warm-weather grasses. Here’s a great tool to help you determine the type of grass you have. The type of grass you have determines the type of care and fertilization it needs throughout the year.
Know Your Climate
This one is much easier to determine than your grass type, but no less important. The NOAA has some awesome climate maps (including temperatures, drought, and extreme weather) that will help you lay out a plan for the best times to winterize your lawn. Look for what time of year temperatures drop most drastically, and aim to complete your winterization before then.
Prepare Before You Fertilize
Now that you’ve figured out your climate and the type of grass you have, it’s time to get started! No matter where you live, when temperatures start dropping in the fall, it sends a signal to your lawn to begin storing nutrients in its roots in advance of cooler weather. You can help this process along by weeding and aerating your lawn in the fall.
You really should be weeding throughout the year because weeds rob your lawn of nutrients, however, this is especially true in fall when plants are fighting desperately for resources. Pulling weeds is the most effective method in fall – chemicals often won’t have enough time to kill weeds and can get washed away by fall rainy seasons.
Aeration helps by punching holes in your lawn, allowing nutrients and water to penetrate the roots, giving them a late-season boost. You can hire a service to do this or you can do it yourself with some patience and a cheap pair of lawn aeration boots. It’s also a great way to get some extra steps on that FitBit!
The Final Step – Fertilize!
Winterizing fertilizer is designed to further strengthen grass and grassroots to ensure that your lawn bounces back in the spring – this is where your research comes into play. Make sure to consult a local lawn care specialist before picking out a fertilizer because you’ll want something that is designed for your climate and grass. In general, you’ll want to look for fertilizers high in potassium, which hardens plants before the weather turns.
A Clean Lawn
Your spring lawn will directly reflect the care it received the previous fall. In advance of winter, make sure to keep your lawn mowed, weeded, and free from sticks and other detritus. A layer of dead leaves is not only a pain to clean up in the spring, but could also kill your lawn over the winter. Strive for a clean lawn before the first snowflake falls and you’ll be much happier when your lawn springs back to life next year.