Preparing your lawn for wintertime is easy and inexpensive. Simple things you can do now will help make your grass green next spring.
Our yards are similar to our bodies in basic needs. We both require good food, air and water to thrive. Before the cold weather sets in, there are some basic things to do to keep your lawn in shape.
When the air turns cooler but the ground is still warm, it’s the perfect time to take steps to insure a healthy yard next season.
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Feed your Lawn
A late year fertilizer will encourage winter endurance, strengthen roots and promote early green grass in the spring.
What’s on the menu?
- Nitrogen- it keeps grass green. Nitrogen affects the color and disease resistance of a lawn.
- Phosphorus- promotes stronger roots.
- Potassium- important to prevent lawn stress and keeps your yard strong.
- The exact fertilizer combination, or ratio, depends on where you live.
Ask your local nursery or home and garden center for the best recommendation of fertilizer for your area if you are unsure. Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are abbreviated on labels as N-P-K. A 10 pound bag of fertilizer labeled 5-10-5 will contain 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% potassium.
Mother Nature has her own food for your lawn.
According to Bob Mugaas, horticulture educator with University of Minnesota Extension, sometimes just mowing leaves into your lawn will provide the food and cover for winter.
- As leaves begin to fall, you can just mow them into the lawn.
- Mowing regularly will allow you to feed the lawn without exceeding the amount of leaves you can cultivate into it.
- When you’re done mowing the grass, it should look as if it’s been raked. If you can see shredded leaves on top of the grass, then you will need to rake up any remaining leaves. Otherwise, they will block sunlight, smother and weaken the grass plants.
Aerating is as crucial a part of a healthy lawn as feeding. It’s done simply by making holes in the lawn and pulling out small “plugs” of soil. By opening up space around the roots, they can breathe, receive the nutrients from fertilizing.
Manual aerators are fine for smaller lawns but do require a bit of hard work. Power aerators can be rented and make the job easier and quicker. Or you can hire someone to core-aerate your lawn for minimal cost, depending on the size.
Other things to consider:
Bare patches have several causes
- High traffic areas can be over-seeded right now and covered with a little soil. Keep the area lightly watered for a few weeks.
- If poor drainage is the problem, fill in small areas with soil and seed. Bigger issues can be addressed by a professional landscaper.
- Do one final mowing to keep grass short. Long grass can encourage fungus growth.
A few simple things to do now will make the start of next year easier
- Store garden chemicals correctly, in a suitable place for the winter. Check product labels for storage recommendations.
- Make sure to drain hoses and sprayers completely.
- Mowers and other power equipment should be winterized, too. Check owner manuals for proper procedures. Drain gas from tanks. Clean off grass and debris. Sharpen blades now so that you’re ready to go in the spring.
- Hand shovels, clippers, trimmers and other hand tools should be cleaned and lightly oiled. This is a good time to repair anything broken or replace items.
Many garden tools are on end of year and clearance sales this time of year, so it’s a good time to save money too. Once your yard is fed, aerated, cleaned up and your tools put away, you can sit back and relax and wait for your green grass next spring.