A well-kept lawn is a sign of responsible homeownership and can complement virtually any property. On the flipside, lawns that are irregularly mowed, fed and tended to give off an air of sloppiness and typically act as blemishes on a home’s appearance. Although lawn maintenance is fairly easy when the weather is agreeable, it becomes considerably trickier during the winter months.
As a result, homeowners in parts of the country known for harsh winter weather often abandon lawn care altogether during this time of year. While this approach may feel somewhat liberating, it also makes getting your lawn back into shape a more difficult undertaking when spring rolls around. Anyone looking to keep their lawn alive and well throughout the winter should consider the following measures.
1. Start Prepping in the Fall
It’s never too early to start prepping your lawn for the ravages of winter. Since early preparation is crucial to a lawn’s wintertime wellbeing, make sure to begin your prep work no later than fall. For starters, you’ll need to clear any and all debris off the grass before winter weather sets in. In addition to putting away any toys or gardening tools that are lying around, take care to meticulously rake every leaf. This will help curb the formation of wet spots as well as mold and mildew. For best results, make a point of completing this prep work before the first freeze of the season.
2. Aerate Your Lawn
When getting your lawn ready for winter, aeration is arguably the most important step you’ll need to take. Aeration entails making small holes in the soil, thereby allowing water, air and assorted nutrients to penetrate the roots. Consistent nutrient penetration ensures that roots grow deeper, thus strengthening the grass. Most importantly, aeration plays a key role in alleviating soil compaction. As renowned lawnmower manufacturer Briggs & Stratton points out, if your grass has a history of drying out or assuming a spongy texture, a lack of aeration is often the culprit.
Although light aeration can be performed with a basic spade, heavy-duty aeration generally requires the aid of specialized tools like plug aerators and spike aerators. Homeowners dealing with large-scale aeration are strongly advised to enlist the aid of professional lawn care services.
3. Put Mowing on Hold
For those who enjoy mowing their lawns, the prospect of stopping for the duration of winter is liable to seem daunting. Conversely, homeowners who view mowing as a cumbersome chore are sure to relish the opportunity to take the winter off.
Regardless of your stance on mowing, it’s recommended that you abstain from it during the winter months. After the first frost of the season occurs, keep your mower in the garage until spring is in full bloom. Keeping your grass short during the winter can lead to dryness and evaporation, thus setting the stage for stunted growth. Furthermore, the shorter your grass is kept during the winter, the more exposure it has to unsavory elements like bacteria.
4. Be Mindful of Foot Traffic
Throughout the winter months, make an effort to avoid walking on your lawn whenever possible. Grass that is covered in snow and ice is very brittle – and therefore more susceptible to breakage than spring and summer grass. You can nip this problem in the bud by creating a safe footpath that goes around your lawn as opposed to through it.
5. Watch for Weeds
Weeds can be a lawn care enthusiast’s worst enemy, and unfortunately, they don’t take the winter off. Whenever your lawn isn’t covered in snow, do a thorough weed check and pull any that have taken root. Certain weeds are much sturdier than grass and are able to grow and spread at a rapid pace, even in cold weather. As Home Depot points out, weeds tend to grow faster during the winter months, and uncontrolled weed growth has the potential to kill grass.
It isn’t hard to see why so many people put lawn care on the backburner during the winter months. After all, the disagreeable weather conditions provide the perfect excuse to cross lawn maintenance off your chore list. However, doing so can have a number of undesirable consequences for your lawn, many of which take considerable time and effort to reverse. When working to ensure your lawn’s wellbeing throughout the wintertime, the pointers discussed above are sure to prove useful.