Just when you thought you were getting used to the scorching temperatures of summer, the colder weather sets in - and it’s gonna stay a while. If you haven't done so already, it’s important to take steps now to prepare your lawn for winter - regardless of where you live.
1. Tidy up
Clean up your summer vegetable garden and make sure all of your beds and lawn are nice and tidy for the winter. Cleaning your garden now will help you bypass this task when you’re ready to plant in the spring and will also help to prevent pests from overwintering. You can start pulling up plants and removing debris as soon as they have gone by.
2. Tend to your irrigation equipment
Have a professional come blow any water out of your irrigation lines. This will help prevent them from freezing and breaking when temperatures drop further. Unless it’s exceptionally warm or dry, you only need to water your lawn about once every six days in the fall, and you can cut watering out altogether once the holidays arrive.
Don’t fertilize any warm season blends, like zoysia or bermuda grass, in the fall, but feel free to fertilize cold-season grasses like fescue. This will help produce a jumpstart of growth in the spring. If you aren’t sure what type of grass you have, or how to best fertilize it, consider searching for your city or a neighboring city in this list of eco-friendly lawn tips to make sure you are caring for your lawn in the best way possible.
If your lawn saw some use this summer and is suffering from some bare spots as a result, it might not be a bad idea to reseed. You can even re-seed or over-seed on top of snow. As the snow melts in the spring, the seeds will drop into place! That being said, hold off on reseeding or overseeding if you plan to grow a lawn that is comprised solely of warm-season grasses.
5. Continue to mow
Cooler temperatures don’t serve as an excuse for you to retire that lawn mower. Your lawn will begin to go dormant as colder weather arrives, but you should keep mowing until the first frost, which some of you have already experienced. You don’t need to mow as often, and especially not as short, as you were accustomed to during the summer months, but keeping your lawn trimmed will keep it healthy going into the winter months. Don’t want to mow in the cold? You can hire a professional to do the work for $55 per service according to LawnStarter Lawn Care.
6. Don’t prune
Fall pruning used to be advised, but now it’s not recommended, as pruning at this time of the year can often do more harm than good. You should only prune if you have a tree or shrub with a disease - this will help you avoid a larger problem in the spring. Any other pruning tasks should wait, as they can promote new growth that will be damaged by a frost or freeze.
7. Tend to weeds and aeration
Weeding seems like a never-ending task, but it’s most important in the fall. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide now, in the fall/early winter, will make your life much easier in the spring. This will help prevent weeds from emerging and becoming a problem later on. Aeration is also important this time of year, as this will help strengthen your lawn’s roots and also provide it with valuable access to oxygen, water, and nutrients come spring.
8. Pack up your equipment
Make sure all of your lawn tools, like hoes, rakes, or shovels, are packed away and sharpened, making them ready for use in the spring. And don’t neglect your hose - if your hose is left outside, and particularly if it is still connected to the main water line, it can freeze and rupture your piping once the temperature drops. This is a costly, unnecessary mistake to make, and it’s easier to get your equipment inside before the first freeze.
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