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Once fall sets in, it’s time to pack everything up in your outdoor area and winterize your yard. The idea is to protect it from the harsh winter and pave the way for a lush turf in the spring.
In fact, autumn is the best time to sow new grass seed and repair any damage to your yard that may have happened over the summer. Yard tasks such as weeding and pruning are much more enjoyable when it’s cooler but not as cold as the winter months.
That’s why the earlier you begin your autumn lawn maintenance, the easier it is for you. Trust us, you don’t want to wrestle with a frozen lawn and dead foliage once severe winter sets in!
So, if you want to learn how to prepare your yard for the winter season, we have a simple 11-step guide for you.
Winterizing your lawn properly will help you improve the health of your grass for the next year.
1. Remove the weeds
The first step in preparing your yard for the harsh winter weather is to weed out so that you can safeguard only the plants that matter. Since most perennial weeds compete for your plant’s essential nutrients, it’s crucial that you remove them. This yard work is especially important before the long winter.
2. Check the pH level through a soil test
A good winter prep begins with testing the pH levels of your soil. Remember that for a healthy lawn, you need your soil to have a neutral pH level. If your soil is acidic, treat it with lime products. For alkaline soil, give it the sulfur treatment. A balance is necessary or else your lawn may thin out over time.
3. Spread the winter fertilizers
Winter fertilizers come with a higher potassium content than the regular warm-weather fertilizers. They are specifically meant for strengthening plants that are under stress. Apply the lawn fertilizer evenly using a spreader — avoiding over-fertilizing as that can burn the lawn.
The best time of the year for this winter lawn treatment depends on the type of grass your lawn has. If you live in an area that has no winter frost, your yard may stay fairly green throughout the winter months. Early autumn is the best time for such a slow-release nitrogen feeding.
If you live in an area that receives some winter frost, remember to apply the fertilizer before the beginning of September.
4. Aerate your yard
Aerating your lawn is important. It allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots and prevents the soil from becoming too hard. You can use a manual push aerator that will keep the soil from becoming too compacted. This is especially important for a yard that witnesses high-traffic. Keep in mind that your lawn may get a thatch buildup if left untreated.
5. Spread cool weather grass seeds
Autumn is the right time to spread cool-season grass seed. The best time of the day is when temperatures range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather conditions help to foster new growth. The best choice for a grass variety is the annual ryegrass. This grass grows fast and quickly covers any bare or patchy spots on your yard. Moreover, the annual grass adds a lovely color to your winter lawn.
6. Keep removing debris
If you want a yard that looks neat and healthy, you have to be regular with debris and leaf removal. Keep in mind that fallen leaves will smother the grass in the yard.
Moreover, it will provide shelter for the harmful fungi spores, insects, and other grass diseases. Raking the leaves will help to remove thatch or the dead grass on top of the lawn. This layer can otherwise prevent water and nutrients from reaching the grassroots.
7. Cover your plant and flower beds
If you want to protect your flower and vegetable beds against the cold weather, you must insulate the topsoil. You can add mulch, plant a cover crop, or cover the plant bed with a burlap cloth.
You can bring your delicate potted plants indoors so that they can survive the low temperatures. While many flower bulbs love the cold weather, tender bulbs such as calla lilies are better indoors.
8. Continue to water your lawn
How you water your lawn depends on where you live. If your region has a warm-winter season, you’ll still water your grass, but less frequently. Maybe just once or twice a week, depending on the temperature.
Turn the sprinklers off during any rainy spells. If you live in a cold-winter region, you should turn off the sprinkler system by the end of October. Remember to winterize sprinkler systems as well by cleaning them out thoroughly and flushing out the hose. This will help prevent any freeze damage.
9. Relax on your lawn mowing
Just like with watering your yard, your frequency to mow your lawn in winter will also lessen. If you live in a mild winter climate, you can cut your summer mowing schedule to almost half. And if you live in a region that sees hard frost, you can cross lawn mowing off your list of winter lawn treatments altogether.
Before the last mowing of the season, remember to lower the lawnmower blades — to a half-inch lower than the summer mowing height. It’s best to keep the lawn grass short before the winter as it removes those grass blades that are likely to be damaged during the coldest months.
10. Winterize your lawnmower
You need to winterize your lawnmower if you want it to start right up in the spring. For a gas-powered lawnmower, the first step is to empty the fuel tank. Then, disconnect the fuel lines. Clean your lawnmower and wheels thoroughly. Don’t forget to remove the blade assembly and sharpen it. Reinstall the blades after applying a light coating of oil. Change the mower’s engine oil and replace its spark plug as well as air filter if required.
For a battery-powered lawn mower, simply remove the battery and fully charge it before storing it. Place the battery in a cool, dry spot. Clean any mud, grease, or gunk off the mower.
11. Clean and put away other garden tools
It’s a good idea to clean your pruners and shears after each use. When you’re storing them for the long winter months, you should also disinfect the garden tools as well as other outdoor power tools. Put them away in a place that’s away from your children’s reach.
If you follow these timely steps for lawn care and garden maintenance, your yard will benefit from some upkeep before the cold weather sets in. Take a little time to winterize your yard and it will all be worth the effort. Trust us, you will thank us when you have a healthy and lush lawn the next spring.