3 Crucial Steps to Take in the Winter for Preparing Your Lawn for Spring
It can be easy to forget about your lawn when it is covered in a thick layer of snow, but experts know that the key to a healthy lawn is constant care. Your grass may be dormant during the winter months, but there is still plenty of work to do in order to prepare it for when the sun comes out again in the spring. Fortunately, the tasks that you need to handle during the winter are not too difficult, so you can get your lawn ready for the coming year and still have plenty of time to relax in the warmth of your own home.
1. Apply Fertilizer
A good layer of fertilizer is vital for keeping grass healthy. Most species will benefit from regular fertilization throughout the year, but many people forget to apply it during the winter. That is unfortunate, since the grass needs a constant supply of nutrients in order to thrive.
The type of fertilizer that you need will vary depending on the conditions in your lawn. A simple soil test, which is normally free from a county extension office, should tell you what type of fertilizer you need. Homemade compost will often work just as well as an artificial fertilizer, bust most people will struggle to produce enough of it to cover their entire lawn. When in doubt, opt for a general-purpose lawn formula.
You should apply your fertilizer before the first freeze of the winter, but you also want to apply it as close to that freeze as possible. That will make sure that your plants have enough nutrients throughout the entire winter to thrive. In some environments, you may need to apply several doses throughout the winter, but a single fertilization session will suffice in the majority of conditions.
2. Cut it Short
Long grass is a serious problem in the winter. Mice and other animals love to nestle in it because it provides shelter from the cold. Unfortunately, they also damage the lawn by building nests and burrowing through roots. You can keep them away from your lawn by making sure that the grass is reasonable short. That will make other environments seem much more appealing by comparison, which prevents them from building their homes in the grass. You probably won’t be able to prevent all of the damage, but preventing most of it will ensure that your lawn can bounce back quickly once the snow melts.
You should be careful not to cut your grass too short at once in preparation for the winter, since that will cause a dangerous shock that can hurt the grass. Instead, you should gradually start to cut it shorter and shorter during the fall and early winter. That gradual increase is much healthier for the grass, and the end result is the same as long as you remember to cut it a little shorter each time. Remember to save your cuttings so you can turn them into fertilizer and recycle the nutrients back into the lawn!
3. Clean the Lawn
A dirty lawn is an unhealthy lawn, and it is easy for snow to hide debris. If you leave logs or other items on top of the grass during winter, you will end up with patches of brown, dead grass when you finally remove them in the spring.
You should remove all of the large objects from your lawn at the start of the season. Follow that by thoroughly raking the lawn to remove thatch. You can also use a dedicated dethatcher if you are having trouble getting it all, but a rake and a little bit of elbow grease should work in most lawns.
You also need to make sure that no new items make their way onto the lawn during the winter. Simply walk through your lawn every week or so, and remove debris as you find it. Try not to do it much more often than this. Your grass is at its weakest during the winter, so you can cause damage by walking over it. Searching the lawn for obstructions is worth a little bit of damage, but you should still try to be as efficient and gentle as possible to minimize problems.