How to Care for Your Lawn in the Winter
Winter lawn care will have you prepared for a much better spring.
While you're busy putting up your Christmas tree and cleaning out your fireplace so you can crank it up on those extra cold nights, there's one thing you're forgetting to take care of before the winter weather rolls in—your lawn. "It's human nature to lay off the yard work when the temperature turns cool in the fall," says Tanisha Peten, director of marketing for Garrett Wade. But, she notes, "you should ramp up your efforts with the goal of having your yard ready before the snow falls." So what exactly is the winter lawn care protocol for prepping your yard to keep it safe from winter's worst?
According to Douglas Dedrick, a landscaper and founder of This American Lawn, winter fertilizer is a must for keeping your lawn safe during the winter so it can blossom come springtime.
"Unlike summer fertilizer applications, which are formulated to make your lawn thicker and greener, a winter fertilizer is high in potassium and phosphorus which helps your grass grow deeper roots. These deeper roots will help the grass rebound in the spring," he says. "Even better, deeper roots will also make your lawn more resilient to any problems it may face, such as drought, disease, or poor soil quality."
And just like we need extra warmth in the winter, so do your plants. Dedrick says adding mulch to your garden beds can help keep your plants a little warmer. In fact, he says, mulch can be the "difference between life and death for your plants" in the winter.
So, what about the fallen leaves covering your yard? Don't think you can just leave them until the snow slowly disappears. "Removing leaves in the fall when they are dry is much easier than when they have spent all winter under the snow. And even worse, come spring," says Dedrick. "These decaying leaves will lead to more bugs, and they can also harbor diseases and molds which can devastate your lawn."
And when you're done with all your winter lawn care and plant protection, Rhianna Miller, a lawn improvement expert for Rubber Mulch, warns homeowners to prep their tools, hoses, outdoor faucets, and exposed pipes, too. She suggests storing hoses inside, as well as insulating any exposed pipes and exterior water faucets to prevent anything from freezing over.
"There's nothing more frustrating than rusted or poorly working equipment or tools when you're ready to use them in the spring," she says. "Take the time to clean, sharpen, and oil garden tools, as well as clean and service lawnmowers and weed eaters, now. And don't forget to put away any garden accessories like buckets, hoses, and rakes. Keep them in a shed so they won't freeze or rust."