Lawn - Garden

Lawn Care: Prepping Your Grass For Winter

The fall period is a very busy time for landscapers and gardeners. Depending on the lawn type, there are steps they must take to winterize the customer’s lawn. You can easily prep your own lawn for winter just like a professional.

If you have a deciduous lawn such as Bermuda grass, the first order of business is to mow your lawn at the lowest notch on your lawn mower around October 1. Make sure you rake all leaves and debris from the lawn area.

With the invention of mulching mowers instead of the bag catcher type, it creates a mat quicker called thatch. If you do not own your own dethatcher, you can rent one from your local equipment rental company. By dethatching, you are creating a lawn that is capable of utilizing fertilizer more readily and it prevents brownout areas where the grass actually dies in the thatch. In addition, if you do not dethatch every fall, when you mow your lawn in the summer, you will see many of these dead brown spots show up after the mowing.

Once you have dethatched your lawn, depending on your soil type, you may need to aerate your lawn. If you have a sandy loam soil, you do not have to worry about aeration since it does not become compacted. For the person who has a heavier soil, which is known to compact, you should aerate your soil so that it can accept water and nutrients more readily. Again, if you do not own your own aerator, you can rent one at your local equipment rental company in your area.

After you have completed all of the previous steps, it is a good ideal to apply a broadleaf herbicide with the addition of a pre-emergent. The broadleaf herbicide should be used at the lowest rate to prevent killing other plants or trees in the lawn area. The herbicide will kill off any young dandelions that germinate in the early fall. The pre-emergent will prevent any other weed seeds from germinating. The pre-emergent lays down a barrier; therefore, if you disturb the soil by any digging, you will lose that pre-emergent barrier.

For the homeowner who does not want to take care of their lawn in the winter can test their lawn for the proper pH level. Most lawns prefer a slightly acidic pH. If it is below 6.5, you may add some lime, which makes the soil more alkaline. The lime is carried at your local garden center to bring the pH level to 6.5 or up to 7. If the pH level is higher than 7, you may add sulphur to the soil which lowers the pH, so that the soil is more acidic. It is necessary to add a good fertilizer to your lawn at this time. Use one which has a high nitrogen content such as 6-2-0. The 6 is the nitrogen content, the 2 is the phosphorus content and the 0 represents the potassium content. Once you apply the fertilizer according to the package directions, you can now sit back and relax through the winter.

For the homeowner who wants a beautiful green lawn during the winter months should do all of the above steps except for the fertilizing step.

You should buy winter rye grass seed and sterilized steer manure from your local garden center by the middle of October. Lay the seed according to the package directions and immediately cover the seed with the sterilized steer manure. Once you have the seeding done, set your sprinkler timer to water each morning and evening for just a short cycle of about 10 minutes to keep moisture reaching the seeds until they germinate. The steer manure will fertilize the lawn that you seeded. You should do the first mowing at around six to eight weeks.

By following these directions, you will be the envy of the neighborhood.