Winter weather can be surprisingly hard on your lawn. After you have spent the rest of the year prepping and mowing and fertilizing and tending to your green lawn, the last thing you want is for winter to destroy all that hard work.
Prepping your lawn for the winter is actually called "winterizing" and there are some very simple steps you can take to learn how to do this process correctly.
These tips will help you take steps to protect your lawn this winter and even help your grass to be healthier and greener when spring returns.
1. Learn what type of grass is growing on your lawn.
As HGTV points out, in order to approach winterizing your lawn effectively, you must start by finding out what type of grass you are winterizing!
And if you are like so many homeowners who have inherited a lawn full of "mystery grass," getting confirmation of species can ensure your lawn care funds are well and productively spent.
But even if you think you know, it may be worthwhile to take a grass sample to your local garden store for confirmation.
This is because some lawn varieties grow fastest in spring and some grow fastest in fall. So they will need different care strategies over the winter.
2. Don't shave your lawn - cut it down gradually.
As LawnCare explains, you don't want to suddenly chop all the green away from the grass roots. This will cause your lawn to go into shock and weaken its defenses against winter's cold.
Instead, start gradually cutting back your lawn. Lower the mower blade a little at a time from one week to the next.
Then you can reduce the green part, which will otherwise likely become food for hungry rodents during winter's scarcity, without compromising the basic health of your lawn.
3. Make the investment into lawn aeration.
If you don't have an aerator, it is typically possible to rent one from a local home and garden center. Alternately, you can see if your regular lawn maintenance service provides this or hire a landscaper to do it for you.
Aeration is the process of breaking up compacted roots and soil so your lawn can breathe. For best results, water your lawn lightly first or do aeration after a light rain.
4. Add some compost and fertilizer to your aerated lawn.
This Old House describes the process of adding a light layer of compost and fertilizer to a newly aerated lawn.
Be sure to use fresh compost and a fertilizer that is appropriate to your grass type. Using a spreader is the best way rather than distributing it by hand - otherwise, you may end up with too much fertilizer in one area and not enough in another area.
If you need to add more grass seed to grow in patchy areas, do it after you have added the compost and fertilizer to your lawn. You can use the spreader to do this as well to make it quick and easy.
5. Work in the compost, fertilizer and grass seed with a rake.
While it is true that leaf blowers have replaced traditional rakes in many aspects of lawn care, a leaf blower won't work to spread the grass seed into your lawn.
For this, only a rake will do - unless you happen to have (or rent) a power over-seeder. This is like a seed spreader and a rake in one and can really come in handy if you have a large lawn!
6. Water your newly fertilized and seeded lawn.
The last step is simply to give your lawn some water so the fertilizer, compost and grass seed can settle in and start to work its combined magic.
With these simple overwintering lawn care steps, you can look forward to a vibrant green growing lawn when spring returns.