If you have decided not to overseed your warm season lawn with a cool season variety for the winter, then you should expect your lawn to become brown and dormant once the temperatures drop close to freezing. Even though lawn care will not be as extensive as it is during the spring and summer, there are some things you should do and some things you shouldn’t do while your lawn is in a dormant state. Here are six mistakes you might be making as you prepare your lawn for winter:
- You are performing stressful maintenance tasks too late in the season. Aeration, dethatching, and fertilizing are all important aspects of lawn care, but they have to be performed on an actively growing lawn that can handle the stress and repair any damage done. Do not complete any of these tasks when there are less than four weeks in the growing season. You should also not be applying any fertilizers that have high amounts of quick-release nitrogen. The most important element your lawn needs right now is potassium, which will increase its cold tolerance. Apply the fertilizer lightly, according to soil test recommendations.
- You are improperly mowing the lawn. As the rate of grass growth slows, you should be gradually decreasing the overall height of the lawn. Leaving it too long in the winter invites more moisture and potential disease to reside, but cutting it too short too quickly will stress and damage the lawn. Be sure never to remove more than 1/3 of the overall grass height.
- You are not removing leaves, pinecones, and other litter. One of the best ways to weaken a lawn is to limit its ability to produce food, and not raking up autumn leaves does just that. If the grass can’t perform photosynthesis, it can’t store as much energy for when it needs it during the winter.
- You are subjecting your lawn to the same amount of foot traffic. Even though you might really want to have an impromptu soccer game on your lawn like you did during the summer, late fall is not the time for it. Your grass is not growing as quickly, so it isn’t able to grow back as quickly when damage from foot traffic has occurred. Let your dormant lawn rest, and don’t walk across it unless absolutely necessary.
- You aren’t watering your lawn. Even though watering your lawn won’t make it green during the winter, you still need to water it to keep the roots alive. Give the lawn a good, thorough irrigation right before it turns dormant, and continue to water it every four weeks, provided that it doesn’t snow or rain, until the grass turns green in the spring. Then increase your irrigation to its normal schedule.
- You haven’t drained your sprinkler pipes. Most sprinkler pipes drain automatically. However, if they don’t, any water left can freeze and crack the pipes in the winter. Do yourself a favor and double check, just to be sure.
This article is courteous of Nature’s Finest Seed, a leading provider of quality grass seeds and planting guides. You can find more informative articles on planting, watering and caring tips for your lawn.