Lawn care doesn’t end just because the weather gets cold. Even if your turf goes dormant during the winter months, it can always benefit from a little TLC. Here are 6 of our favorite winter lawn care essentials to help ensure a lush, green yard in the spring.
Your soil can become compacted for several different reasons, including lots of foot traffic, heavy machinery, etc. Soil compaction causes the soil to dry out because it isn’t getting adequate hydration which in turn leads to poor nutrient uptake by the roots leading to drainage problems, dead turf and bare spots. Thatch is the layer of material and debris between the soil and the visible grass. A thatch layer of 1″ is considered healthy; anything greater than 1″ blocks air and water penetration to the roots which leads to drainage issues. Aeration is a solution to both of these issues. Holes are made through the turf into the soil below, allowing air and water to penetrate through. Aeration can be done manually or with a power aerator. It can also be done in the warmer months or in the winter, as long as the ground isn’t frozen yet.
Minimize Soil Compaction
Help avoid the need to aerate by minimizing soil compaction in the first place. As mentioned before, compaction decreases nutrient intake by the turf, causing it to dry out and leading to drainage issues. Soil compaction in the winter is often caused by increased foot traffic, parking cars on the grass, and storing machinery and equipment on top of it. Avoid compaction by limiting storage on top of the grass and sticking to walkways and sidewalks when outdoors.
Winter is also a perfect time to fertilize, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Check the pH of your soil. If your soil is acidic, winter is a great time to add a little lime to it for balance. You can also apply a slow-release fertilizer to help winterize before the spring.
Raking is not just a chore for the fall. Leave can drop at different times during the cold season. Wet leaves on the ground can cause water to buildup, fungal growth, pests, and bare patches on your lawn. Rake up any leaves that fall, even if you’ve already done it multiple times.
Clean Up Debris
Winter storms can leave behind a mess of branches, tree limbs, and other debris. Even though it’s cold outside, it’s best to clean these up ASAP. Heavy limbs can impede water drainage and compact your soil, and lead to crown hydration, all of which can cause bare patches on your lawn. Crown hydration, also known as grass freeze, is when warm weather spells cause the soil to thaw and tricks the grass into thinking it’s spring. The grass sucks up water and nutrients in preparation for spring growth, but the cold weather comes back and refreezes the soil and the water it has retained, causing it to expand inside the crown of the grass and kill it.
Winter is a great time to make repairs and perform maintenance on your lawn machines and tools since they aren’t in regular use. Give your mower a once over and follow the appropriate maintenance instructions (e.g., fuel stabilizer in gas powered equipment). Give it a thorough cleaning and repair or replace any parts that are necessary. Sharpen your mower blades so they’ll be ready for spring. Check the gears on your height adjustment mechanism and store equipment in a dry, protected area.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the need for lawn care slacks off. Use this time to get ahead before the spring to ensure you have a lush, healthy lawn you can enjoy year-round. For help with all of your lawn care needs, contact your local lawn care company for an analysis and ongoing maintenance plan.