How to prepare your lawn for winter

Although you've enjoyed the time you spent in your garden this summer, the fact is winter is coming. That means you'll need to prepare your lawn to help it survive the harsh weather that's just around the corner. Here's some advice to ensure your grass shoots up healthy and lush next spring.

How to prepare your lawn for winter

[Photo credit: iStock.com/Saklakova]

What you can do in the fall

Address drainage issues
Fall is the time to address drainage problems if you have any standing water issues on your lawn.

  • Often, standing water occurs when "thatch" develops on your lawn – essentially a compacted layer of soil under the surface that prevents water from penetrating into the soil.
  • Standing water will go through several freeze-and-thaw cycles during the winter, pressing down on the soil and endangering anything that might grow there.
  • To tackle the issue aerate your lawn with a fork or coarse-bladed aerator, then fill the holes with sand. Doing so will prevent the suffocation of the hibernating grass when it's buried under a couple of feet of snow for months. Remember that a foot of snow weighs about as much as an inch of water.

Fill in bare spots
Seeding (or re-seeding) in fall will help bare spots fill in next spring.

  • Two passes at different angles prevent "striping" of your grass when it finally grows back.

Get your mulch started
The time to start composting for next year is in the fall.

  • Choose a convenient location for your pile and begin with a layer of green trimmings and clippings from the lawn and garden.
  • As the season passes into winter, add organic scraps and excess soil and finish off your compost with your last good batch of trimmings. Come spring, the pile will be a source of ready-to-go rich fertilizer for your new grass.

What you should do in late fall

Just because the days are colder and daylight shorter doesn't mean you should give up on your garden for the season.

  • Clear the grass and trim the trees and bushes. Remove anything that's dead and add it to the compost pile.
  • After it has stopped growing, trim your grass short. Remember to leave a bit of blade to protect the crown.
  • At the first hard freeze, spread mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to protect the roots. (It's vital to pull the mulch back a couple of inches from the bark of the plants to prevent decay.)

What you should do during winter

Even when buried under snow, you can do a few things to ensure your lawn grows back in good shape when spring arrives.

  • Limit traffic. If your children enjoy playing in the snow, encourage them to play in the entire yard, not just one section.
  • Try to prevent a solid path from forming in the snow on your yard, such as along the route from your back door to your shed or garage. Doing so is important because packed snow too easily turns to suffocating ice.
  • Remove excessive ice build-up if it does occur. Crack solid areas with a pike or fork to break them up.

Enjoy a lovely spring lawn!

Fortunately, most of these tasks take only a couple of hours to complete and shouldn't add much to your list of garden chores. The main benefit will be in spring when your lawn starts sprouting healthier and greener than ever before.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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