For many homeowners, there is a common misconception that lawn maintenance comes to an abrupt halt once the cold and wet weather of the winter arrives. Most people believe this to be true thanks to the significant slowing of the grass growth. However, this could not be further from the truth and if you fail to keep up your winter lawn maintenance, you will only succeed in creating a lot more work for yourself once spring comes around.
It’s easy to change your thinking, especially when you consider some of the things that we will be discussing in this article today. If you want to keep your lawn in shape then following my tips for good winter lawn maintenance will help you to achieve this.
Things To Consider When Creating A Winter Lawn Care Plan
As the cold weather approaches, it is a good idea to have a solid winter lawn care plan in place that will be manageable and that will produce good results.
There are many things to think about, especially considering the effect that snow, frost and excess rain might have on your lawn.
Frost & Snow
Many people are not aware that simply using your lawn when the weather conditions are bad can have a very negative effect on it.
For this reason, one of the most important things you can do during winter, if the lawn is covered with frost, is to stay off it! If you don’t you’ll be left with big footprints on your grass in spring. The reason that this happens is because when the lawn is frozen, the blades of grass become solid and easily breakable. Every time you step on the lawn during these times, you are damaging the grass, and this is what will leave those unattractive footprints.
If snow does fall (hopefully on Christmas day!) don’t brush the snow from your paths and steps onto the grass, this will just transfer diseases onto the lawn like Fusarium Patch and Snow Mould (for advice on how to deal with them both just click on their corresponding links). But even without doing this, there’s still quite a high possibility of finding these diseases on your lawn after the snow melts, although in most cases your grass will be fine, so don’t worry about removing the snow.
If you have children, however, you may need to take a slightly different approach and the only time you should remove snow is when your kids make snowmen.
Since snowmen are made from large volumes of compacted snow, they take much longer to melt than the residual snow on the lawn after a snowfall. We have all seen it – snowmen still standing a week after everything else has gone and the sun is shining. It might allow you to hold on to that last bit of the winter magic, but it certainly won’t be doing your lawn any favours. Leaving these wintery friends standing could mean that you end up with very noticeable marks on the lawn. Therefore, it is important that you distribute the snow evenly once the kids have finished playing.
It is worth noting that during the winter months, you may begin to notice large puddles of water forming on particular areas of the lawn. This is likely a sign that the soil in these areas is compacted and is something that you will, without a doubt, want to tackle in the spring.
Grab a notebook, and throughout winter, make notes of where these puddles are occurring, this will allow you to properly aerate the lawn when the good weather returns in spring. If you would like to learn more about the best type or lawn aerator, click on my article –Best Type of Lawn Aerators.
If the sun does pop out from within the clouds and the temperatures reach at least 10°C, then you’ll need to get your mower out. At this time of the year, the grass won’t grow much so it is important to make sure that you cut off anywhere between 10%-25% of grass height to stimulate some sort of growth.
On those slightly warmer days, you may wish to trim around the edges of the lawn and along any pathways. Taking advantage of good winter weather will mean that you have less work to do come spring.
There is a chance that you may notice some moss growth over the course of the winter and this is very normal, but that doesn’t mean that your lawn will like it. In fact, too much moss can completely take over your lawn, so it is important to manage this issue as you come across it. You can either use a chemical moss and weed killer or mechanically remove the moss by raking when the weather improves in spring.
There is nothing quite as satisfying on the eye than a lush, green lawn but getting this colour can be a bit of a challenge if the correct steps aren’t taken. An important part of your winter lawn maintenance should be focusing on keeping the lawn green and healthy.
If you want to provide more colour to your lawn then you should apply a fertiliser that contains a low level of nitrogen with a good amount of potassium and iron.
If you also want to strengthen the grass and improve its winter hardiness then try applying a Soluble Iron (Ferrous Sulphate).
Just make sure that whatever you apply is designed for winter (if it is meant for spring then you’ll be applying way too much nitrogen and just see excessive growth – this is not what you want at this time of the year). In addition to this, you should ensure that you do not apply the fertiliser during a frost.
Moss & Weed Control
We mentioned using a soluble iron on your lawn and not only does this (Ferrous Sulphate) help your lawn fight against the winter conditions, but it also helps to reduce the amount of moss found in-between the blades of grass.
It is important to remember that when removing the moss, you should not do anything vigorous since this will disfigure the lawn – it simply cannot handle this kind of stress during the colder, winter months.
However, it is possible to apply a fertiliser, in the right conditions. Doing this using 4-5 grams per square metre of lawn, once during the winter will be sufficient. Whilst this will not remove any of the moss, it will make your job much more manageable when spring comes along.
As for weeds, you’re better leaving them alone. Removing them is too stressful for the lawn to handle right now.
As I mentioned earlier, it is possible for your lawn to suffer from snow mould or fusarium patch after a period of snowfall. Unfortunately, this is usually a sign of an unhealthy lawn which could be a result of high thatch levels, poor air circulation or simply because of the consistent rainfall. Whichever one it is you will need to find out what is causing the problem and find a way to resolve it. If you don’t, it will persist, and you will find yourself facing the same issue over and over again.
Maintaining your winter lawn involves many aspects, but even after you have tended to the basics, there is always something else you could be doing to ensure the health of your lawn as it faces the cold and wet weather we see in winter.
You’ll probably be aware that worms are able to improve the nutrient content within the soil as well as improving its structure. That being said, their casts need to be removed. This may sound challenging but it is, in fact, relatively simple. You should allow the casts to dry before brushing them away.
Because there is little chance of natural grass plant recovery during this time of year, do not be tempted to scarify or aerate your lawn. It’ll cause more damage than good. These are both jobs that should be left until the spring.
Trees are a beautiful addition to any garden, but due to the fall of leaves, they can also be a nuisance when it comes to your lawn. However, there is a way that they can live in harmony and this comes down to you. So that they don’t smother your grass, always remove leaves that have fallen from trees onto the lawn.
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We all know how important it is to care for your lawn during the warm, spring and summer months, and many of you will also be aware of the importance of preparing your lawn in the autumn. However, there is a common false belief that you should leave the lawn alone during the winter months, but this is not true.
Having a good winter lawn maintenance plan will ensure that your lawn remains in good condition and that the jobs you need to do in the spring are drastically reduced.
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