Lawn preparation for winter is one of the most important gardening tasks that must be done in time and correctly. Adequate fertilization, mowing and removing weeds and debris provide the healthy lawn appearance, but there are a few other things you should do, which are given below.
Lawn Preparation for Winter
Scarification is done to remove thatch or undergrowth from the lawn. This removes way to moss, weeds, and dead organic debris which impede the flow of water, air, and nutrients to the roots. You can scarify your lawn in late spring when all the dangers of frost are passed or in the fall. Before scarifying your lawn, mow it. Scarify only to remove the top layer of thatch, don’t penetrate the blades too deeply.
Aeration improves the airflow in the soil and reduces its compactness so that water, fertilizer, and oxygen are easily absorbed by the roots. This treatment improves the condition of the roots and helps in quick regeneration of grass after the winter. Aeration should be done in fall in late September or October. However, according to research conducted by Purdue University, aeration is done too late even until November might be helpful.
Generally, grasses grow well in neutral pH and if your soil is acidic, do liming. The best time to lime your lawn is fall, after the aeration. The cycle of freezing and thawing in winter assists the penetration of lime into the soil.
After the aeration, if you see holes and patches apply the seeds at a rate of 0.8 Oz (25 g)/m2. Colder months are the perfect time for seeding scraggly patches of lawn. It is done when the soil is not frozen but cold enough to stop germination until next spring. To learn more about how to do it, read this.
Topdressing is the process of application of a thin layer of soil, sand or compost over the turf. Topdressing is done after the aeration and overseeding. It helps in leveling the surface of the lawn, protect it from extreme temperatures, controls thatch, improves drainage and resistance to drought. Plus, there are many other advantages. However, it is skipped in home gardens and lawns. To learn more about top dressing, check out this educative article.
By proper fertilizing the lawn before winter you can increase the turf resistance to freezing temperatures. The application should be done 2-3 weeks before the first frost date using so-called “winterize fertilizer” such as 24-2-14 NPK. But beware that winterize should not be applied to warm-season grasses as it will encourage them to grow. The high level of potassium in winterizing makes grasses more tolerant to cold and stress, helping them to survive in winter.
Grass must not be cut too short or too high. The optimum height for the last mowing job is leaving 2/3 of grass blades. The last mowing is best done anytime between late October to mid-November, depending more on the prevailing weather conditions. If you mow the lawn too early before winter and warm weather has made the grass grow again, mowing must be repeated. During winters, mowing is not required. Once the temperature falls below 40 F (4 C) grass starts to grow slowly.