With the cold season upon us, it’s time to start getting used to the idea that summer is over, and those long, warm evenings spent in the yard are coming to an end for a few months. But, winter isn’t forever, and it’ll soon be spring again. If you want to make sure that your lawn will be in tip-top condition once the warm season returns, it’s important to prepare it for the cold season.
In doing so, you ensure that everything growing in your yard is protected when the first frosts strike and will return stronger than ever in spring. Take a look at our top eight tips on how to prepare your lawn for the cold season and maintain your home’s curb appeal.
Stop or reduce irrigation
With the days becoming cooler, your lawn is less likely to require so much water. Now is a good time to start slowing it down, before shutting it off completely in wetter climates. It’s important to ensure there’s no water left in irrigation hoses during winter, as this can soon freeze and damage to your system.
Go slow with mowing
Just because it’s getting colder, that doesn’t mean your grass won’t continue to grow. In fact, across the states, most grasses are cool-climate species, which will continue to slowly grow until the first frosts. Keeping on top of mowing the lawn during fall has the added advantage of clearing fallen leaves before they can pile up too much. From the end of summer and throughout fall, it’s a good idea to maintain around a 14-day mowing cycle, gradually lowering the cutting base of your mower.
By slowly ensuring your grass is cut shorter, you prevent shocking it and avoid the dangers of leaving your grass too long over winter. Long grass can attract burrowing creatures such as field mice, that will destroy large sections of your lawn. It also causes swamping by preventing the soil from draining properly. For best results, try to keep your grass as short as possible at the end of the season.
Think about fertilizer
Summer can be intensive for your lawn, and after months of growth, your soil might be in need of a boost. Late fall or early winter are great times to fertilize your lawn, especially for cool-season grasses which are found across much of the US. Be sure to thoroughly fertilize your lawn before the first frost in order to replenish the nutrients that have been used up over the summer. Once cold weather strikes, your grass will feed on the fertilizer that is locked into the soil, ensuring lush, green grass when spring arrives.
Let it snow
Once the snow starts falling, don’t be tempted to clear it from your lawn. Snow acts as an excellent insulator, and protects your grass from the harsh, cold winter weather. Any areas of snow that are removed will result in patchy grass once spring starts and the rest of the snow has melted away.
Keep the bugs at bay
Colder temperatures are a great time for many types of bugs to breed, including mosquitoes, which favor temperatures of around 50 °F. It’s easy to neglect this chore, but you’ll regret it next year when you’re plagued by these biting pests! Check your lawn for sources of standing water, the ideal place for mosquitoes to breed. Look out for planters, birdbaths, flower beds, water buttes, and anywhere else water can gather.
Mulch or rake fallen leaves
The best way to deal with fallen leaves is to mulch them into the soil. However, this requires you to keep on top of them, and prevent them from forming a thick, soggy layer on top of your lawn. Alternatively, fall is a great time to feed your compost pile with fallen leaves. Not only do these break down and add to your compost pile over winter, but they also provide something of a water-resistant, insulating layer, preventing the pile from getting too wet.
Keep it clean
Keeping your lawn clean and clear is essential, and if you don’t do it before the first snow settles, you’ve probably left it too late. It’s important to clear away things such as toys, logs, rocks, and anything else laying on your lawn. These heavy items can prevent the grass beneath them from growing nicely, leading to an uneven lawn.
Prevent foot traffic on your lawn
In the same way, try to prevent people from walking on your lawn too much over winter. While grass is fairly resilient, continuously treading across a certain area will soon wear it down, leaving a bare patch come spring. Be sure you keep your footpaths clear of snow and ice, and encourage people to use them instead of walking on the lawn.