Some homeowners think that, once they’ve raked the leaves and the first winter frost sets in, their work is done for the season.
Unless you want a lackluster lawn, this could not be more wrong!
Don’t panic, though; it really is true that you can relax for the winter, just like most of the plants and grasses you’ve tended to all year long. But that doesn’t mean you can get away with doing nothing at all.
In addition to fall preparations, there are a few things to tend to throughout the winter season, in order to give your lawn and garden its best chance to come back strong and verdant once spring arrives.
Let’s break down the DO’s and the DON’Ts of winter lawn care:
DO These Things:
- Plant flowers and vegetables! Just make sure they’re winter hardy, and that you can provide adequate growth conditions. Vegetables to Plant in the Winter has some great ideas for this project.
- Cover your garden during a hard freeze. Even winter hardy plants can incur damage if they’re covered in ice or snow for too long. If you’re cultivating winter plants, invest in a few tarps and burlaps for protection.
- Cut your grass, but not too short. You want enough length on the blades to provide a bit of a protective canopy. But you don’t want to leave them so long that you risk rotting; so aim for about 1-1.5 inches. If you get a warm burst that inspires a bit of winter growth, pick a dry and pleasant day for a quick mow.
- Seed your lawn, but do it right! Did you know that winter seeding is not only viable, but a great way to give your turf a head start for the spring? Check out Dormant Seeding in the Winter for more details.
- Water your yard, but not too much. Once again, any chances of root rot or lawn disease should be avoided at all costs. But here in North Texas, we can occasionally experience a spell of 70-degree days. Give your lawn a light watering as the weather cools, and again as needed during those occasional warm spells.
- Mulch your lawn and garden, but not excessively. All those leaves you raked up are great fodder for nutrients, but you don’t want to leave a 3-inch pile disintegrating in that neglected corner of your garden. Insulate your trees and shrubs with some adequate cover, but don’t leave an excessive amount of organic matter to rot through the winter.
- Prune your trees and shrubs. Winter is a great time to identify and get rid of any stems and branches that look unhealthy. Not only are they easier to spot due to shed foliage, but the plants will heal faster in the colder weather.
DON’T Do These Things:
- Don’t fertilize just before or during winter. Not only is this a waste of vital nutrients, but it can damage your soil and root systems. Fertilizer is potent, and it is meant to be used during active growth, when plants will soak it up quickly. Left to sit there unabsorbed, it can mess up the pH balance of your topsoil and compromise the health of your grass’s roots.
- Don’t mow in the snow! If your grass gets a random growth spurt during a warm spell, but it snows a week later, just leave it be. Frozen or half-frozen blades are more vulnerable to damage and disease, and they should be fully thawed and dry before you take a blade to them.
- Don’t neglect your yard. In most regions, the majority of your trees will have shed their foliage by early winter, but that doesn’t mean your yard won’t accumulate organic debris. Inspect your yard and garden every few weeks, and clear away any buildup to avoid rotting and topical damage.