As the leaves fill the yard and the grass turns a light brown we think yard work for the year has come to an end. Not exactly. Actually, you are just getting started for the next season. So don’t put that shovel and rake up right yet, we have a little more work to do.
As you already know most lawns become dormant when the temperatures start to drop, especially the warm season grasses such as centipede and bermuda. The first thing you will notice is the decrease in growth. Then the dark green color we all love starts to fade followed by layers and layers of leaves on the ground. Even through these things are the natural processes most if not all lawns go through to prepare for a long winter you still have a couple of house keeping chores to do before we settle in. Your probably thinking what you could possibly do to help your lawn once dormancy starts. Well, sit back and I will fill you in.
Preparing Lawns Before Winter
Toward the end of summer we see that the grass doesn’t need as much mowing as it did and watering has slowed down as well. Being the lawncare experts we are ,hopefully we have been able to take care of our lawns so that winter will not be such struggle to survive. All we have to do now is to continue that care with a few exceptions.
Adjust your watering schedule as the months get colder. To much water will make your lawn soggy and pooling water can cause root rot if it continues for a long period of time. Mowing your grass should continue as well, at least until the bitter cold sets in. We want green leafy growth and this is the way we tell out grass to produce it.
Lawn Care Practices For Winter
1. Continue to mow your lawn throughout the cooler months. This will keep your lawn looking its best plus keep you off the couch. It won’t be very much but you want to encourage that green leafy growth. I know most of you will have snow on the ground and a lot of it, but if you don’t mowing once or twice a month won’t kill you.
2. Winter is also a perfect time to dethatch your lawn. Over the spring and summer if you didn’t rake or bag the clippings, then in most cases you have thatch. This is a buildup that can cause a number of problems if not taken care of quickly. If you have more than one inch of thatch then get busy raking this stuff up and putting in your compose pile. It will make for better draining soil later. If you have a riding lawnmower you can buy or rent a detaching attachment which could make your life a lot easier.
3. Remove all leaves, rocks or branches from the yard. If leaves stay on your lawn they can block the sun, especially if they are wet and stick together. The leaves will smother your grass and possibly leave you with more work to do in the spring with repair.
4. Fertilizing is another thing most home owners think is not important in the colder months. Just because the grass is not growing on top doesn’t mean its not growing on the bottom. This is a great time to get some phosphorus on the ground to promote root growth. If you live in the Southeast or any other hot region you know that droughts are very possible during the summer months. We want a good deep root system for our grass to get it through the driest hottest conditions.
5. Plant an Annual Rye grass to fill in any dead spots.
6. Avoid excessive traffic on your lawn. To much foot traffic will cause damage to your lawn or in some cases kill spots. This is not the time of year that you can repair a worn path. And for goodness sake guys, keep your vehicles in the driveway. Driving your cars or trucks on the lawn is the fastest way to kill it during the winter.
7. Fall and winter is a great time to spread lime. Lime is made from limestone rock, which in nature contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. When lime is added to soil, these compounds work to increase the soil’s pH, making soil less acidic and more alkaline. Lime is an essential nutrient for plant health but it is not intended to be used as fertilizer. Lime’s primary role is to alter soil pH and offset soil acidity, which can improve the uptake of plant nutrients.
Winter is an unpredictable season that could put your lawn through some really harsh conditions. Just prepare your lawn for winter and baby it a little so you can enjoy that green thick lawn in the spring.