frost-covered lawn

Winter Lawn Care 101: All You Need to Know About Protecting Your Lawn

Since winter is almost upon us, many of us who live in a house with a lawn are already considering what we can do to take care of the lawn during the cold season. Even though most people completely forget about their lawn in winter, doing this would be a mistake. Why? Because even though you can’t do much in terms of making your lawn look nice in winter, there are things you can do in the cold season to make sure your lawn looks lovely when spring comes. Today, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about winter lawn care.

winter lawn care tips

Winter Lawn Care 101: Protect Your Lawn During the Cold Season

1. Fertilizing

Yes, you heard that right, you can also fertilize your lawn in winter. Moreover, it is actually advisable that you do so. Your lawn will benefit immensely if you fertilize it in early winter, especially if you live in North America. There, most lawns are made from grasses such as bluegrass or Bermuda, which are cool season grasses.

However, you should be careful to fertilize your lawn before the first frost. Otherwise, the fertilizer won’t reach the soil properly. Summer months make for a huge loss of nutrients in the soil. Which is why it is important to replenish them before the soil freezes.

You should spread a generous amount of fertilizer all over your lawn. After all, you want it to last longer and feed the soil all winter long. You will notice that in spring, you will have lush and healthy grass because of all those nutrients that were hiding under a thick layer of snow.

2. Cleaning

It is extremely important for your lawn to be absolutely free of undesired objects during the cold season. That is because any object left behind which later gets covered in snow will create dead spots in your lawn once spring arrives. The weight of whatever you left on your lawn during winter is always a factor that you should keep in mind. Which is why you should keep an eye out for toys or pieces of furniture that you might not have had time to store away before the first snow.

Overlooking objects on your lawn is not something uncommon. After all, you don’t spend that much time outside during the cold season. Which is why we advise you to make sure you clean everything off your lawn when you mow it for the last time in late autumn. Moreover, since most winters come with strong winds, you might want to check for unwanted objects every few weeks. You never know what the wind might have blown on your lawn which could make the grass look much thinner in spring.

Cleaning your lawn doesn’t only mean cleaning objects that are not supposed to be on it. It also means raking leaves and any other kind of debris. Remember that leaves usually trap moisture which can lead to worm activity and disease. So if you want to avoid that, make sure you use a brush or a rake and clean the lawn thoroughly.

rake cleaning the leaves off a lawn

3. Mowing

Another important winter lawn care tip is related to mowing. Even though it is quite obvious that you can’t mow your lawn when it’s covered in snow, that doesn’t mean that what you do prior to the cold season can’t affect the health and look of your lawn in winter. For instance, when winter is finally here, you should make sure that your lawn is as short as possible. The reason we recommend that is because sometimes, mice or other types of animals tend to hide from the cold in tall grass. So if your lawn is too tall, mice might build nests there. This will destroy part of your lawn by filling it with dead spots and pulling up some of the grass.

If you want to avoid this from happening to you, you should start lowering the cutting base on your lawn mower starting with the last month of summer. This might seem like an early preparation. However, if the decrease is gradual, the grass will be much healthier during the winter months. That is because it won’t have to adapt to you shortening it drastically all at once. Another great benefit of short-cut grass in winter is the fact that any new growth will be thoroughly protected by the cold. So in preparation for those long winter months, always have your lawn cut short.

close up of a lawn mower on the grass

You can also mow your lawn in winter, but only under the right conditions. For instance, the weather has to be favorable, which in some places is more difficult than in others. Moreover, don’t mow your lawn if the ground is really wet or if you’re expecting heavy frosts. In fact, unless really necessary, you shouldn’t have to mow your lawn in winter. If you do choose to do that, you will have to make a 25% higher cut than the one you used in the summer.

4. Traffic

In case you weren’t familiar with this winter lawn care tip, you should know that walking on the lawn during the cold season is something you should avoid doing. Before the snow covers your lawn, the grass is short, mostly brown, and doesn’t look like you should pay attention not to tread on it. In fact, if you walk on your lawn rather often, you might form a path. This path might make it very difficult for your lawn to recover. Which is why we thought of some tips to help you protect your lawn from any kind of traffic that might damage it.

For instance, if you want people to avoid walking on the lawn in winter, you should make sure that the sidewalks are completely snow and ice-free. If they are, there’s no reason for you to use the lawn in order to reach your destination. Another idea would be to lay some stepping stones across your lawn. That way, people can use those instead of the actual grass.

Foot traffic is not the only kind of traffic that might damage your lawn. You should also avoid parking your car on the lawn. The smallest vehicle is enough to leave imprints that your grass won’t be able to recover from. If you use your lawn to park your car, it might also invite weeds and crabgrass. These pests will damage your lawn’s health even further.

5. Aeration

Another great winter lawn care tip is to aerate your lawn by using a fork or an aerator machine. That way, more air can reach the roots of your lawn and this will make it much healthier. Moreover, by aerating the soil, you also improve drainage and relieve compaction.

Since you normally have to rent an aerator machine, you might be wondering if there is any other way for you to aerate your lawn without going through that much trouble. Luckily, there is something else you can do. You can buy a pair of lawn aerator shoes like these ones from Amazon. That way, you can simply walk across your lawn and aerate it in the process as well. However, just be careful that you do this before the first frost.

winter lawn care

6. Fall Preparation

As we’ve already mentioned, winter lawn care is not as challenging as lawn care in other seasons. That is because once the snow settles, there really isn’t much you can do apart from making sure no unwanted objects are resting on your lawn. Precisely due to this reason, fall lawn preparation is really important for a healthy winter lawn.

The month of November is perfect for lawn preparation. It is the time when you should rake your lawn, cut it once more before the first frost, aerate it, and fertilize it with a special winter fertilizer such as the Jonathan Green & Sons Winter Survival Fall Fertilizer that you can buy on Amazon for $57.29. Also, if you notice any bare patches in your lawn, you should take care of them now. For instance, we recommend this Scotts PatchMaster Lawn Repair Mix that is ideal both for lawns that are in the shade and for those in full sun.

fertilizing a green lawn

Summing It All Up

Whether you realize it or not, winter lawn care is really important for a healthy spring lawn. Consequently, it’s not something that you should ignore. Luckily, taking care of the lawn in winter doesn’t take as much time and effort as taking care of it in autumn. As long as you remember to do all those autumn rituals we talked about above, winter lawn care will remain minimal.

All you have to do to make sure your lawn will keep its gorgeous appearance in the season to come is to keep it fertilized, aerated, clean, and short. Other than that, as long as people don’t walk over it a lot, your lawn should look great when spring arrives. If you want to learn how to do the last mowing before the first frost, take a look at the video below.

Bonnie Enos

I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!

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