How to Prepare Your Lawn For Winter? Complete Guide

Halloween and Thanksgiving are advancing near – signifying winter is around the corner. While the fall will bring on appealing autumn leaves, your lawn will likely slow the growth pace and look tired and worn out.

And it’s not surprising as the cultivated crops have already consumed most of the soil nutrients and made the most of the warm seasons by flourishing in the garden.

So now it’s the time to prepare your garden and lawn for the cold months ahead and the following year’s flourishing lawn. Of course, your lawn will need winter care if you live in mild winter or where blizzards amass the snow.

Follow the steps below for winter lawn care, including fall lawn care, aerating the turf to minimize compaction, winterizing the plants to ensure water and fertilizers reach the roots, and many more. Then, simply utilize this fallow period to prepare your yard for a lush, green springtime.

4 Winter-Care Tips For Lawns

Lawns or gardens may not need much care in winter as much as it requires in summer, spring or fall. But it doesn’t mean you will ignore it entirely. After all, you must also ensure your lawn is in good shape to bloom next spring. So to accomplish it, you will have to follow the below steps.

1. Begin with Pre-Winter Care for Your Lawn

Begin with Pre-Winter Care for Your Lawn

There are plenty of plants you can cultivate during the fall. It’s essential to start working now to make your lawn ready to thrive and combat chilly months. Here are the first steps of pre-winter lawn care –

Step 1: Remove Debris and Moss

As the fall approaches, perennial plants succumb, and trees start shedding their leaves. So look for any of these on your lawn and remove them, so they don’t suffocate your lawn.

This debris can create dead patches wherever they accumulate. However, you can choose to mulch this debris and add it to the compost bin.

On the other hand, if you see any moss to seize the shady areas in your garden, get rid of them too. Moss usually germinates in areas where the soil is deficient in nutrients.

Step 2: Continue Mowing

You don’t have to pause mowing your lawn as the temperature outside has dropped. Instead, carry on mowing your property to stop growing the grass. Besides making raking more convenient, mowing will make your lawn look appealing.

Step 3: Get Rid of Weeds

Use a hand weeder, spade, fork, and bucket to monitor your lawn or garden. Pull out any weed popping up in the lawn from their root by hand or spot-treat them using herbicides. It’s essential for perennial weeds like ground ivy or dandelion.

Step 4: Aerate the Soil

Gardeners do this in the spring too. But fall appears to be a perfect time for aeration as no one will be walking on the soil stuff eliminated during aeration.

You can employ a manual aerator or power equipment to penetrate the soil. However, a simple spike wheel will complete your basic aeration tasks smoothly.

Step 5: Apply Compost

This is the next step after aerating your lawn. However, composting can be done anytime, anywhere. Compost fills in the gaps formed after removing the plugs. Moreover, rainfall during the fall further helps to penetrate the nutrients and valuable microbes into the soil.

Another fascinating fact is that this is also a perfect time to pile up your compost and turn it into an excellent soil supplement. How to do it? Check it out below-

  • Gather green materials like leaves, clippings, and vegetable scraps and make the first layer of the compost pile.
  • Make the second layer with brown materials like brown leaves, garden soil, and straw. 
  • Next, you must moisturize these two layers thoroughly, add the next green layer, and cover it with garden soil. 
  • Turn this pile of compost whenever possible throughout the season. Once the pile becomes crumbly, black, and sweet-swelling, your compost is ready to use as a fertilizer.

Step 6: Reseed the Barren Spots

It becomes easier to reseed barren areas in a lawn with plenty of moisture and cool temperatures. First, dig the soil surface a bit to loosen the soil and spread the grass seeds. Then, use straw or any mulch to cover the surface lightly to keep birds from browsing.

Water the seeds lightly, two to three times every day for about 5 minutes at a time, until they germinate. After that, you can water for 20 to 30 minutes once daily.

However, once the prevailing grasses grow up to 3 inches, mow your lawn again and bag the clippings. Then, rip off the grass up to 1 ½ inches to prepare them for a long cold nap.

This is a significant step, as fertilization will strengthen your turf and plants for winter. First, however, make sure to apply the fertilizer that is labeled for your plants or region.

2. Winterizing Your Lawn

Winterizing Your Lawn

The next step in your winter prep work is winterizing the yard to protect it for the next yielding months. Autumn is an important season for lawn work. Lawn fertilizers are usually found during the fall, known as ‘winterized fertilizers.’

Gardeners should aim to apply the fertilizer between October and November.

First, however, start the process by testing the pH levels of the soil. Your lawn should have a neutral pH level; otherwise, it can wear out with time.

Step 1: Cover Tree Trunks to Prevent Frost Cracking

When the fall starts approaching, the sap of thin-barked trees freezes quickly at night, resulting in the splitting of the bark. So start wrapping the trees with paper from an inch below the soil surface to the lower branches and stick securely with duct tape.

When spring approaches the following year, remove the tape and unwrap it to allow new growth.

Step 2: Control Pests

Use hardware cloths or wire-mesh screening to cover essential trees and shrubs. This will prevent birds or animals from nibbling on foliage.

Step 3: Retain Moisture

Evergreen plants tend to dry out quickly during the winter. Thus, gardeners need to ensure water penetrates the soil well. You can either cover your plants with multiple burlap layers or spray with an antidesiccant.

Step 4: Carry out Mulching

Mulching helps to protect plants and trees from chilly temperatures in winter. So it’s a necessary step to prepare your lawn for winter. Moreover, you can maintain an even soil temperature with mulching.

After a strong freeze, add mulch at the base of shrubs and trees in your lawn. However, avoid accumulating mulch around the trunk. On the other hand, pull away mulch nearly 2 inches from tree trunks and woody stems to prevent the rotting of bark and stems.

Step 5: Water as Required

Watering plants is necessary but avoid over-watering. In case of dry fall, you may have to continue watering your plants even in their dormant stage. After all, they should be prepared to combat the freezing temperatures.

And if rainfall is insufficient during summer or warm months, you may require water throughout the winter.

3. Time to Cleanup and Maintain your Lawn

Time to Cleanup and Maintain your Lawn

From weeding to raking leaves and weeding, you strive to keep your garden looking lively and lush. Winter care and lawn maintenance need only a few steps for you to follow.

It will make your lawn look neat in the fall and prolific again in the spring. Continue reading to learn how to take care of your lawn in winter.

Step 1: Clean Your Lawn (rake leaves, fallen fruits, etc.)

Leaves can choke out the grass and plants, especially the large ones like maple, so collect them and keep your lawn neat.

On the contrary, you can mow your yard, gather leaves and clippings, and add the mix to make your compost pile. They can also be utilized as mulch for shrubs and flowers.

Eradicate dead annuals or fallen fruits, if any, in your yard. Your garden will look clean and, at the same time, keep pests away from overwintering in this debris that can affect produce next year.

Step 2: Don’t Cut off all Perennials

You can leave some perennial plants for winters, such as thick-stemmed plants like taller sedums and decorative grasses.

Step 3: Pile up Your Compost

As mentioned above, you can create your compost pile with fallen leaves and kitchen vegetable scraps. But, again, combining green and brown materials will boost the composting process.

However, avoid adding dairy or meat products to the compost heap to avert rodents. And throw infested, diseased, or about-to-seed plants in the dustbin.

Step 4: Prepare for the Next Spring

Besides preparing the soil and plants of your lawn, clean all the garden tools nicely before storing them. Next, remove the garden hose and drain it properly.

Step 5: Retain Some Summer Bulbs for the Next Year

You can store summer bulbs like gladiolus, canna, and dahlia to utilize in the next growing seasons. Plant the bulbs after the first frost. The root parts will take a few days to dry out, and then you will eliminate the excess soil.

Store them in a root cellar or a dark basement in sawdust or peat moss for the winter.

Step 6: Gather Seeds

You can collect the seeds of your favorite annuals and plant them the next year. Use paper envelopes placed in a glass jar to store the seeds and keep them in any dry area indoors.

4. Let’s start Planting

Let’s start Planting

By now, you might enjoy abundant vegetables, fruits and flowers on your property, enough even to preserve. While winter is fast approaching, gardeners will not consider sowing more seeds now.

Many crops like melons and peppers can’t tolerate the chilly temperatures of winters. But there are certain crops that thrive in the fall and winter.

So let’s find out what you can plant for the coming colder months.

Step 1: Plant Colorful Varieties

Decorate your lawn for winter by planting some colorful cool-season flowering plants like mums, pansies, and ornamental kale. These plants will sprout in cool temperatures and even tolerate frost, adding a burst of colors to your lawn.

Step 2: Get Some Bulbs

It’s even the best time to plant spring flower bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus. They will pay you richly next spring by blooming attractive flowers.

You can even cultivate summer bulbs like shallots and garlic to reward you for the coming summer.

Step 3: Rejuvenate Plant Vigor

You can separate the summer, and spring-blooming perennials, and the fall is the best time to do so. Go for the ones propagating vibrantly around a mild-weaker section in the middle.

Step 5: Grow New Crops

You can prepare your garden for the late fall by sowing lettuce and spinach seeds. Moreover, cover the soil with straw lately to extend the season when the temperature drops below freezing.

Apart from that, you can wrap the root of crops like rutabagas and carrots using a straw to ease winter propagation.

Step 6: Cover the Bare Areas

If your lawn has bare areas, you can sow clover, rye, or any fast-propagating crops to form a cover or living mulch. Then, when spring draws closer, you can shift this temporary cover crop into the soil to add nutrients.

Wrapping Up

Now, just relax and watch as your lawn stays healthy, strong, and blooming throughout the winter, and promises to grow lush green the next spring.

However, plan for the fall and winter to let your lawn kick off right. We hope the steps mentioned here will help prepare your garden or lawn for the winter and the next growing season.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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