The winter can be a very harsh time for our gardens and one of the worst-hit areas is the lawn. This time of heavy rain, snow, and cold temperatures can seriously damage your lawn and give you a very complicated job when spring finally rolls around again. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to protect and take care of your lawn during the winter.
If you are someone who takes pride in their garden, then taking care of your lawn during the winter is going to make things much easier for you in the warmer seasons. The best way to take care of your lawn during the winter will differ based on your location and the kind of weather you face, but most of these steps can apply to any garden.
Essential Tools To Keep On Hand
There are lots of different things that you can do to take care of your lawn during the winter and there are some tools that can make it easier for you. It is likely that you will already have some of these in your garden shed if you are a budding gardener, but there are some things you should go out and buy as soon as possible.
Your lawn will need:
- Lawnmower with interchangeable levels to do a low cut
- A garden fork to dig up any patches of thatch
- A rake to remove debris and falling leaves
- Winter fertilizer to aid growth
- Cool-season or cool weather grass seeds
Preparing your garden for the winter will not only keep it looking good as the year comes to a close but will also make your life a lot easier when the spring comes round again. You will need to make sure your lawn is prepared for the winter to keep it healthy so you will have a full and green garden in the new year.
Clean Your Lawn
The first thing you should do when it comes to taking care of your lawn during winter is to clean it up. This is something you should be doing during the fall to get your lawn prepared for winter, as well as a couple of times during the colder months if you can bare it.
You need to make sure that there is no debris, leaves, or even household items like toys left out on your lawn during the winter. This is because they will smother the grass, which can cause disease conditions. Debris and other smothering items will also invite mice, bugs and other pests to rest in your garden over the winter, which will cause long term issues for you.
Your lawn should have been trimmed short before the cold weather arrives, as it will be easier to maintain once the spring comes round. Cleaning your lawn at the beginning of winter will also make things easier for you during the spring, as you have done most of the work for yourself.
Tackle Thatch And Moss
When you clean your lawn, you will also have to take some time to tackle the thatch and moss that may be present in your garden. Moss is often found in dark patches under trees and hedges, so it can go untouched for months at a time. When you are clearing your lawn, make sure you are covering all areas of your garden, so you do not miss any patches of moss.
You can purchase effective moss killers from most garden centers and this can be applied to your lawn directly. This is something you should aim to do before the worst of the weather has kicked in as it can take up to two weeks for these chemicals to remove moss from your garden.
Moss is an issue that can be prevented in the future by removing any branches or hedges that cause dark spots, as well as improving drainage throughout your garden. These may be some projects that you will want to work on in the upcoming spring, whereas you can focus on removing the moss for now.
Thatch can be treated using a garden fork, which you will have to use to dig up some of the worst affected areas of your lawn. This dry and brown grass will appear in some play areas of your lawn or those with the most traffic.
Once you have removed some of the biggest patches of thatch from your lawn, you should fill in the gaps by brushing a sandy top dressing across the surface of your garden. This will allow air and water to be fed into your lawn over the winter, so growth will not be hindered and it will be kept healthy.
The Last Cut
You should have aimed to do your last lawn cut during September or October before the weather had dipped in temperature. The last cut should have used the lowest setting of your lawnmower each time to make sure your lawn will be as short as possible without causing damage to the ground underneath.
Leaving your lawn too long in the winter will make it a very attractive location for mice and other pests, which is going to cause a lot of issues for you during the winter as well as when you start tending to your garden again in the spring. Mice and other pests will build nests in your lawn and will damage large areas of your garden during this time.
To prevent pests in your garden during the winter, keep your lawn short and remove as much debris as possible whenever you can. You should also make sure that your shed or other storage locations are firmly locked and closed.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Applying fertilizer to your lawn before the worst of the weather hits is a great way to care for your garden during the winter. In the colder temperatures, grass will not grow as much as it does during the summer. Although it will be getting a lot of water from the rain and snow during the winter, there is not a lot of sunlight available during the later seasons of the year, which is why everything in our garden hits a standstill during the winter.
This means that your lawn will need a little extra helping hand during the winter to keep it healthy and growing. Applying fertilizer to your lawn at the beginning of the winter before you have had to deal with heavy snowfalls or slush is a great way to keep it healthy.
The best way to apply fertilizer to your lawn will differ based on the size of your garden, but you should aim for even coverage. This can be done using a spreader of some kind, whether that is a machine or a handheld device. The spreader can be used to apply an even layer of fertilizer over your lawn and you should take care to only apply the recommended amount.
There are some fertilizers that have been specially designed for lawns during the winter, which you should use now. Only apply the recommended amount of winter fertilizer as too much can burn your lawn and cause you more issues.
Plant Cold Seed Grass
To help your lawn during the winter, you can plant some grass seeds that have been specially manufactured to handle the harsh weather. It is possible for you to purchase cold season or cool weather grass seeds from most garden centers. This kind of grass does not need the same level of care as standard lawns and it will be able to grow even during the dropping temperatures of the winter.
This can be applied to your lawn using the same spreader you use for the fertilizer. Just like the fertilizer, make sure you apply an even coverage of grass seeds to avoid clumps growing. This will help keep your lawn looking full and green even during the winter, making it easier to maintain when spring rolls around again.
Watch The Weather
If you want to take proper care of your lawn during the winter, you will need to pay attention to the weather in your area. Although most lawn turfs are quite resilient and will be able to tolerate an extreme winter, especially if you follow these steps, there are some things that can cause permanent damage.
You should try to chip away any little-exposed ice that has gathered in a low spot in your lawn, especially if you know that more is to come. Ice can smother your lawn and stunt growth so it can cause a lot of damage.
This is why it is also recommended for you to avoid walking on your lawn when it is frosty or icy. This can break the grass and will stunt growth as it makes the lawn weaker.
During the winter, you really do need to pay attention to the upcoming weather so you can see whether you need to provide some additional protection to your grass if it is forecast to snow or there is a big freeze coming in.
The winter is a very hard time and it is likely that your lawn will go through a lot during this time. Preparing your garden for the winter and taking care of your lawn as much as you can when it is cold outside will make your life so much easier next spring. You will need to make sure that your lawn is able to breathe and get hydrated from the rain and snow, as well as prevent any pests from making nests within it.