Keep your lawn healthy all year long by preparing it for the cooler months ahead. Winterizing your lawn will protect the grass from snow and ice and keep it healthy for regrowth when spring arrives. Many people mistakenly believe that the grass just dies during the winter. The truth is that the grass and soil are just frozen and will start collecting and digesting nutrients again during the defrosting phase. You can prepare your lawn for the cold-weather months in a few simple steps.
Use this checklist as a guide when winterizing your lawn:
- Rake up debris. You'll need to remove all traces of grass clippings, debris, superficial dirt, and leaves scattered around your lawn. This will help the soil absorb as many nutrients possible and prevent excessive mold from forming underneath a blanket of ice and snow. Plan to rake your lawn thoroughly before that first snowfall.
- Check the lawn's pH level. The pH levels will shift before winter and can give you a better idea of how healthy your lawn is. You can pick up a pH level testing kit at your local garden center.
- Apply fertilizer. You'll need to use a spreader to apply fertilizer evenly over the lawn. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to ensure you are applying just the recommended amount. Fertilize is potent enough to burn the grass, so you need to follow the instructions closely!
- Aerate the lawn. You'll need to give the grass roots some extra air before they go into "hibernation" with that blanket of snow. Motorized aerators are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. You'll need to set aside a few hours to go up and down the entire lawn with the aerator. If you decide to use a manual version, plan to spend significantly longer on this project.
- Scatter grass seed. You can purchase specialized cold-weather grass seed to winterize your lawn properly. Most fescues are appropriate for this type of project. You'll need to scatter these seeds evenly over the lawn using the same spreader you used to apply fertilizer. Make sure the seeds are scattered as evenly as possible or you'll end up with large tufts and clumps of grass later on.
- Rake the lawn again. This time, the goal of your raking activity will be to break up any clumps of soil left on the lawn. This process will also help to cover the grass seeds and even out the seed distribution.
- Water the lawn. You'll need to keep the soil as moist as possible before the cold temperatures take over and the soil starts to freeze. You can just water the lawn with a garden hose on a gentle setting. Don't soak the soil at any point because you just want the water to keep the soil moist and healthy.