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Winter Lawn Care Guide – Preparing Lawn for Winter

Many people, even those who consider themselves to be clued up on the do’s and don’ts of gardening, assume that winter is a time to ditch the gardening and head inside, and in some respect this is true.

However, if you want to ensure your lawn remains healthy and happy throughout the winter, here are a few simply things that should be done.

In this winter lawn care guide, you’ll find some of the most effective ways to look after your lawn during the colder months.

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Tips for Winter Lawn Care 

Taking the time to care for your lawn throughout the winter doesn’t take a lot of time or energy, but it goes a long way towards keeping the lawn in great shape for spring. (source)

Keep Off the Lawn

Keep Off The Grass

Though you probably won’t be spending much time outside during the winter, try to stay off the lawn as much as possible when it’s wet or frosty. The lawn won’t be growing a lot during the winter and therefore any damage caused by walking cannot be repaired.

Avoid Mowing the Lawn

Avoid mowing the lawn in winter as much as possible and only mow the lawn if it’s necessary. A lawn will not grow much during the winter and therefore most people will find there’s no need to cut it.

However, if temperatures do spike and weather conditions are good, a small amount of mowing may be required.

Grind Leaves into Mulch

During the winter a lot of leaves and branches fall from trees, many of which will end up on your lawn; this is only increased when it’s windy, as debris can be blown in from elsewhere.

It’s important to remove any leaves and debris from the lawn as frequently as possible, to reduce the chances of damage. If you have a large lawn, you may find a leaf blower or lawn vacuum useful.

Check and Service Your Lawnmower and Strimmer

As your lawnmower and strimmer won’t be used often during the winter, it’s the ideal time to give them the once over. Check to ensure all blades are sharp and that nothing needs repairing, as well as replacing any parts.

Doing so will leave you with a lawnmower and strimmer that are in tiptop condition for when spring rolls around.

Aerate the Lawn

Aerating the lawn

Aerating the lawn refers to process of allowing air into the lawn; this is done using a pitchfork or any other spiking tool. By allowing air into the lawn, compaction is reduced and drainage is improved. This leads to a healthier lawn overall.

Decrease Lawn Watering

You are probably used to watering your lawn a lot during the summer, especially as the warmer temperatures can dry it out. However, the amount you water the lawn should be drastically decreased during the winter.

Not only will the extra rain keep the grass hydrated, but the colder temperatures tend to bring dew.

Raise Lawnmower Cutting Heights

If you do notice that your lawn could do with cutting during the winter, it’s best to raise your cutting height slightly; this will reduce the risk of damaging the lawn. Low lawnmower cutting heights can result in scalping and brown patches of lawn.

Apply Fertilizer if Necessary

Applying a fertilizer helps the lawn to stay healthy and looking its best throughout the winter months

A lot of people assume that applying grass fertilizer is a task best suited to spring and summer, but that’s not always the case. Though not all lawns will require fertilizer, some could do with the help.

Applying winter lawn fertilizer helps the lawn to stay healthy and looking its best throughout the winter months.

Read our in-depth guide all about 10 10 10 Fertilizer.

Keep an Eye on Extreme Weather Conditions

Though a lawn is very resilient in general, certain extreme weather conditions can cause damage in the long run. The best way to avoid this is to keep an eye on the weather and remove any large patches of ice that occur.

Similarly, if snow builds up in low areas of the lawn and doesn’t melt naturally over time, it is beneficial to remove it manually.

Remove Weeds and Unwanted Plant Growth

Removing Weeds and Unwanted Plant Growth

Though weeds and plants tend to grow a lot slower in the colder temperatures, they can still appear. As well as looking unsightly and causing the garden to look overgrown and unkempt, weeds can cause damage to other plants.

Remove weeds periodically throughout the winter and cut back any plants that are overgrowing. There are a lot of different weed killers available and many do not cause harm to the lawn.

Stop or Reduce Irrigation

With a cold season, continuing to water your grass would end up causing more harm than good. For winter, it is recommended that you keep irrigation in the lawn.

If you reside in warmer climate, you can reduce the irrigation frequency and the length of your sprinklers. This way, you will not only reduce your water bills by far but also keep your lawn safe throughout the winter and fall season.

Prevent Mosquitoes

Most homeowners forget about the presence of mosquitoes when preparing their lawns for winter. Walk around and ensure that you collect anything that can hold stagnant water to help keep off mosquitoes.

Check your garden pots, flower beds, and rainwater barrels. Additionally, ensure that you replace the water in the birdbath daily. This way, you will enjoy warm summer nights when winter is over without disturbances from mosquitoes.

Keep It Clean

Preparing Lawn for Winter

Source: Trusty Joe

Due to the prolonged cold weather during winter, it is likely that no one ever visits the place. As a result, dirt may pile up and make the place look unsightly. Toys, lawn furniture, and stray logs may be ignored during this time.

You should walk around the lawn even during the cold season and ensure that everything is done as expected. This will help keep the grass stunning throughout the season and ready for occupation when winter time is over.

Preparing Lawn for Winter

Here are some top tips on preparing garden for winter.

  • Make sure your lawn is clear from all debris and leaves, if you don’t want to use a rake, a decent leaf vacuum will make a good investment. Failure to remove debris such as dead leaves will smother your grass and also create hiding places for unwelcome guests!
  • Give your lawn its last pre-winter trim – make sure to use a good lawnmower !
  • If your lawn suffers from moss and or has a build-up of thatch you should scarify it. For most domestic sized lawns you can use a spring-tined lawn rake. However you can also buy (or hire) power scarifiers.
  • Improve drainage and aeration. Depending on how compacted your lawn is you can use one of the following methods:
    • Use a garden fork to pock holes in lightly compacted areas – wiggle it back and forth before pulling it out to increase the hole size
    • Use a hollow tine aerator if your lawn is very compacted – this will remove whole plugs of earth – hand held hollow tine aerators usually don’t work on very heavy clay soil or very light sandy soil
    • Use a power aerator if your lawn is really compacted and you can’t use a hand held hollow-tine aerator
  • Finally, feed your lawn with a specially prepared winter fertilizer. Do not use a spring fertilizer as these contain more nitrogen which is intended to encourage spring growth – not something you want in the winter – it will weaken your grass.

Once you are done, enjoy putting your feet up for a winter rest from lawn care, and make sure to avoid walking on your lawn if there is frost on the grass.

Wrapping Up Our Winter Lawn Care Guide

By removing debris, keeping time spent on the lawn to a minimum and aerating you’ll find yourself left with a healthy, happy and great looking lawn despite the cold and the rain. 

After all, there’s no need to have your lawn looking worse for wear just because it’s winter. When it comes to winter lawn care, a little goes a long way.

Lawn care for your lawn in winter

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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