You spend all summer mowing and watering your lawn to keep it luscious and green. But once cooler fall temperatures arrive, it's time to protect your lawn to make sure it stays healthy over the winter and is ready to come out of its dormancy period strong in the spring.
Here are six ways to prepare your yard for winter.
Know When to Mow
In the fall, you should mow your grass every 10 to 14 days until all of the leaves have fallen. This will ensure that the leaves don’t smother the lawn, and it will keep the grass at a healthy length to prepare for winter. Be sure to check the minimum recommended length for the type of grass you have. A good general length to prepare grass for winter is 1.5 inches for warm climates and 0.75 inches for cool climates. The recommended length is generally shorter than how you would keep grass in the summertime, which helps to reduce fungal growth during the fall and winter. It also helps to delay cutting until warmer weather returns.
Don’t Forget the Fertilizer
It's often beneficial to add a natural fertilizer to help ensure that your grass will be green and lush come spring. If you didn’t fertilize at the end of summer, go ahead and do it before winter comes. Use a good organic fertilizer with no phosphates.
Reduce or Stop Irrigation
Your grass doesn't need as much water in the fall as it did during the hot summer. If you are in a warm climate, it's typically best to reduce how much and often you water. But if you are in a cool climate, you likely can stop watering altogether as the temperature dips in the fall. You don't want the water to freeze on your grass if the temperature suddenly drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in any climate, the amount you'll need to water also depends on how much rainfall you have.
Maintain Your Compost
Fall is a great time to build up your compost pile to have it ready for the next spring. While you are cleaning up your yard before winter comes, be sure to gather some of the brown ingredients that your compost needs. For example, gather some dry leaves, and add them to your compost pile. The leaves will prevent the pile from getting too wet, and they'll add a little insulation to the compost as well.
Walk around your property in the fall to make sure you don’t have anything that collects stagnant water. Mosquitos breed when the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you provide them places to breed in the cool weather, you can expect lots of mosquitos when the warm weather returns. Any water source can be a problem, even down to a tiny bottle cap that has collected rainwater. So check your garden beds, flower pots, and other locations for signs of pooling.
Leave the Snow in Place
If it snows, leave it on your grass and garden beds. Some people tend to plow patches of grass around their driveways and sidewalks, and that can be a big mistake. Snow protects your grass and other plants, acting as insulation against the cold winter air and harsh winds. If you accidentally plow portions of your lawn, those spots might not grow as well in the spring, which can make your grass look uneven and patchy.