As days get shorter and temperatures drop, many homeowners overlook their lawns' needs. Unfortunately, winter can be brutal and make it hard for lawns, trees and shrubs to thrive the following spring.
Just like chapped lips and dry skin, plants struggle to find moisture in the winter too. Symptoms include scorched and dropped leaves, mottling on leaves and even dead leaves and twigs. Dry or frozen soil can prevent plants from replenishing needed water, which can result in winter burn. In addition, when temperatures drop below a plant's natural tolerance, it can impact their health and vigor and cause them to decline prematurely.
"Many homeowners may not realize that late fall is a good time to help prepare your lawn and landscape for a healthy spring growth," says Ben Hamza, director of technical services for TruGreen Lawn Care Services. "Homeowners should remember to perform common maintenance practices on their lawns and landscapes, such as late fall fertilization on lawns and trees and shrubs, and continue to water during dry periods. Taking the extra time in the fall can pay dividends in the spring."
Here are 6 Tips to help prepare your lawn for the winter months:
1. Clear leaves. It's important to remove leaves or mulch them with a properly-equipped mower as they can suffocate grass. Matted leaves left over a lawn throughout the winter months can delay spring green-up. After clearing leaves, compost what was collected to nourish plants and shrubs.
2. Replace unhealthy patches. Fall's favorable weather conditions with moist and warm soil temperatures create the ideal opportunity for successful seeding of bare lawn areas and over-seeding of healthy grass to improve your lawn thickness and density.
3. Trim. Trees and shrubs are also vulnerable to winter weather and should be properly groomed and fertilized to avoid injury throughout the winter season.
4. Give a good fall feeding. The roots of lawns, trees and shrubs need energy to prepare for a healthy, green spring revival. Keep fertilizer on target to prevent run-off, and sweep stray fertilizer granules on driveways and pavement back onto your lawn.
5. Give sprinklers a break. In most parts of the country, failing to winterize your sprinkler system can result in major problems and costly repairs, such as cracked pipes, broken valves or damage to the lawn itself. Follow your owners manual for instructions to safely winterize your system. Be sure to blow out underground pipes to eliminate any remaining water that may freeze and expand.
6. Mow against snow mold. Keep lawns trimmed until growth ceases to help prevent snow mold. Tall or improperly mowed grass is most at risk of developing snow mold.