Lawn care in the winter? While it may seem an odd idea for those of us currently buried under 48″ of snow (yes, we currently have snow piles taller than my 8-year-old), there are some things you can do before and during the winter to ensure a gorgeous lawn when the snow retreats. Ruben Keogh shares his tips with us today…
It seems like not so long ago that for those living in the more southerly climes of this great nation, the concept of “winter lawn care” was about as relevant a concern as “nighttime lawn care”. There just wasn’t much for a homeowner to prepare for beyond expecting a bit more rain. However, with our polar vortexes, frigid zephyrs, circumpolar swirls and whatever other manifestations of global weirding nowadays, plummeting temperatures, snow and ice in our traditionally warmer temperate climate can’t necessarily be discounted as the occasional fluke. So for everyone East to West, North to South, above the Mason/Dixon line and below- here are some tips for keeping the grass green, even if it can’t be seen (another excellent rhyme!).
Keep it Clean to Keep it Green
Yes, counting the title, that is indeed three rhymes so far- I’m just that good. Anyway, for the most part grass will survive its winter dieback under the snow. However, a blanket of snow or coat of frost does make a lawn more susceptible to smother or trample damage. Anywhere toys, tools, sprinklers or whatever other debris is left on a lawn over the winter, one can expect to find a brown spot beneath. Be sure to have a lawn clean and clear before the snow falls, or as soon after as possible. The same goes for trample damage- your lawn is sensitive to trails being stomped out during the winter, so keep the on-lawn traffic to a minimum.
High and Tight
The longer your grass in the winter, the more surface area there is to be sought by winter-specific diseases, more area exposed to freeze and thaw damage and the more organic material to smother a lawn. So keep it short, but not so short that the soil is exposed- that too can prove detrimental to a lawn by damaging the “crown” of your grass. Gradually lower the height of your mower until your yard has the military cut: short, but not shaved.
It’s never a bad idea to lay one final application of fertilizer on your grass before the mercury dips. Be sure that it’s something mild enough not to burn your grass while covered by a layer of snow for several months.
Thatch and Aeration
While virtually all plots of grass benefit from the intermittent de-thatching rake-over and/or bout of aeration, doing so before winter can mean the difference between great spring regrowth and a post-snow re-sodding. De-thatching and aeration open the lawn up to more oxygen and reduce the risk of a cold-weather smother.
Winterize Your Irrigation
Winterization of your sprinkler system is perhaps more about saving you a good deal of money, labor and hassle than it is about keeping the grass green. For hose-end sprinklers, as mentioned, pull that sprinkler off your lawn, curl up the hose and put them away. For automatic sprinkler systems, drain them and/or blow them out. If you’re not proficient in sprinkler care, definitely get a professional to help you out. It’s really not that expensive and a pro pipe-clearing will pay for itself many, many times over if doing saves your pipework for bursting when the water inside freezes and expands.
Otherwise, enjoy winter’s gift to the homeowner: a break from mowing and watering for several months. Good luck and good lawn!
Ruben Keogh is a semi-retired plumber and landscaper, amateur conservationist and environmentalist, who found his true calling after graduating from apprentice to journeyman blogger. When he acquires the wit and insight required for graduation to master blogger status, he’ll let you know. Meanwhile, Ruben spends his days dreaming about snorkeling in Costa Rica, hiking and his lovely wife Gina (not necessarily in that order, of course).Pin It