Your winter lawn care will be different depending on what type of grass you grow and your climate. Snow-covered lawns should be cleaned, aerated, fertilized, and protected from heavy foot traffic. Lawns with little or no snow usually require winter watering and can be overseeded with ryegrass.
Winter is an ideal time to take a break from lawn care chores, especially if you have warm-season grass. But that doesn’t mean you can simply forget about your lawn till spring. There are still things to do!
So, what do you need to learn about winter lawn care?
A lot! But don’t worry! I made a list of the best winter lawn care tips and tricks to give you a detailed winter lawn care plan for both snow-covered and snow-free lawns. If you abide by it, I guarantee you’ll have a green, lush, healthy lawn in spring!
- 1 Winter Lawn Care Tips For Snow-Covered Lawns – Prepping In Advance
- 2 The Best Winter Lawn Care Tips For Little Or No Snow
- 3 Universal Winter Lawn Care Tips & Tricks
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Wrapping Up
- 6 About The Authors
Winter Lawn Care Tips For Snow-Covered Lawns – Prepping In Advance
Professionals from the Lawn Doctor company agree that you should not forget your lawn just because it will soon be covered in snow. Here is what they suggest you should do to prepare your lawn for the upcoming growing season:
Aerate Your Lawn
Cool-season lawns should be aerated before the first snow or frost. Depending on where you live, you should do it in either late fall or early winter. For example, I live in North Carolina, and so I aerate my Kentucky bluegrass lawn in the fall. If you are not sure how to do it, watch this video: The photo above is courtesy of allispossible.org.uk.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Dr. Koski, a Professor at Colorado State University, and Dr. John Street, a Professor of Agronomy at Ohio State University, warn that winter or dormant fertilization should not be confused with late season/ late fall fertilization. The latter is performed while your turf is still green while the former method is applied once grass plants lose most of their green color and stop growing actively.
According to an article I read in the reputable This Old House magazine, winter fertilization is one of the most important steps of winter lawn care. I usually apply winter fertilizer after my last mow, which is around November. This way, the nitrogen has time to reach deep into the aerated pathways and feed grass roots throughout the harsh winter.
If you apply fertilizer too late, your lawn might succumb to snow mold. Snow mold is a fungus that develops in wet, cold weather. I once dealt with it and had to use special fungicides and overseed parts of my lawn.
Avoid Walking On Grass In Winter To Minimize Damage & Soil Compaction
Avoid walking on your grass during the coldest months, especially when there is ice and snow. According to professionals from Jonathan Green company, a major supplier of grass seed and lawn care products, heavy foot traffic can cause soil compaction and damage tender grass blades. As a result, your grass might die, and you’ll have to re-seed it in spring.
Since I am a pet owner, I know this can be difficult for some of you. Things are even harder when you have kids who can’t wait to build a snowman and stamp all over a snow-covered lawn. I guess you’ll have to visit public parks more often, but it is well worth it if you want your lawn to stay healthy.
The Best Winter Lawn Care Tips For Little Or No Snow
If you live in warmer areas of the USA, like my parents, who are in the deep South, you are not likely to see any snow during the winter. So, you’ll need to take care of your lawn a bit differently.
Skip Winter Aeration
If you live in an area with no snow, your lawn is probably a warm-season type. As I saw when visiting my parents, this type of grass is dormant throughout the winter. In fact, professionals from Pennington Seed Company say that warm-season grasses start to go dormant as soon as temperatures drop below 65°F in the fall. The photo above is courtesy of blastpaintrestore.
Experts from Cardinal Lawn company say that the best time to aerate is during the period of its active growth, meaning there is no point in aerating dormant grass. Instead, warm-season grasses should be aerated in the late spring, not winter.
Make A Winter Watering Schedule
Your lawn should get at least a half-inch of water every other week, or you might lose the turf system over winter. In the northern parts of the country, this amount of water is usually secured by rainfall and snow.
However, Nicole Stoner from the University of Nebraska warns that it is often necessary to water your lawn during winter in warmer areas. In her words, winter watering is critical in dry winter years with little to no snow cover, especially on days above 40°F.
Winter drought and frozen soil can lead to winter desiccation, making water unavailable to your grass plants. As Stoner explains, some lawns are more tolerant of winter desiccation stress due to deep roots (for example, the Kentucky bluegrass and fescues). On the other hand, newly planted lawns are far more susceptible to winter desiccation than established lawns.
If you live in a cold area, watering in winter should not be done via a sprinkler system because the pipes might freeze and burst. I saw this happen once, and I thus recommend keeping the lawn soil moist by hand-watering. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Overseed Your Lawn With Ryegrass
If you live in the deep South, you can overseed your warm-season lawn to keep it green during cold weather. I have seen many people do this quite successfully.
Experts from Emerald Lawns Company say ryegrass is one of the most popular choices for overseeding hibernating Bermuda grass and zoysia grass. They list a number of pros and cons of this method, too.
- Ryegrass is cheap and fast-growing.
- It secures a year-round green color.
- It enables you to use your lawn during the winter months.
- Ryegrass dies off when temperatures rise in the spring. So, with a bit of patience, you simply return to the original warm-season grass.
- Ryegrass will take essential nutrients from your lawn in spring.
- It requires fertilization that might cause winter damage to your lawn.
- Perennial ryegrass can prevent 100% green-up by the Bermuda grass that stays partially dormant.
- It takes some time for the ryegrass to die out on its own, even as long as early summer.
- It might turn into difficult-to-control clumpy ryegrass.
- Perennial ryegrass can diminish the health of the Bermuda grass.
I have never done this, but I found a great video that shows you how to overseed your lawn with ryegrass:
Universal Winter Lawn Care Tips & Tricks
Some things have to be done, snow or no snow: The photo above is courtesy of Ruth Hartnup.
Keep Your Lawn Clean
To keep your yard healthy, you have to keep it clean. You should remove all the garden furniture, gardening equipment, and debris from your lawn before winter hits. What about leaves?
Nicole Stoner, an Extension Educator at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says you shouldn’t leave wet leaves on your lawn over winter because they can:
- smother the grass
- cause the development of snow mold
- pollute surface water by causing excess algal growth.
If you hate raking the fallen leaves as much as I do, Stoner suggests using alternatives, such as mulch mowing. The mulch can be used for organic gardening. So, you could be killing two birds with one stone. The following video shows you how to do it:
Winterize Your Lawn Mower
I usually winterize my lawn mower right after the final cut, but you can do it a bit later, too. Try doing it when it becomes too cold to enjoy an afternoon in your garden. Just ensure that it’s not freezing outside since you’ll have to use your water hose, too. The photo above is courtesy of pauljoelhancock.
Experts from the famous Stihl company list the necessary steps you should take to prepare your mower for winter storage:
- Remove the fuel from the tank for gas mowers/ Remove the battery pack for battery-operated mowers.
- Thoroughly clean the lawn mower deck with water and a brush.
- Grease and lubricate all moving parts.
- Check the mower blades to see if it needs to be sharpened and balanced.
- Remove the spark plug and see if it needs to be replaced (I replace mine every year since it does not cost much and can bring about a lot of problems when in bad condition).
- Check the oil level. If you need to pour some oil, do it right away, and ensure you use the recommended branded oil.
- Find a dry, warm place to store your mower.
If you are a visual learner like me, check out a great video on this subject:
What should I put on my lawn in the winter?
You should put winter fertilizer on your lawn in the winter, but only if your grass is not dormant. Aerating and fertilizing your lawn in the winter provides your grass with the nutrients it needs to be healthy and green in the spring.
How do I winterize my yard in Texas?
You winterize your yard in Texas by keeping the grass at the right height (between 2.5 and 3.5 inches), setting up a new watering schedule, applying pre-emergents, and cleaning leaves and debris.
Do you like my tips and tricks? I tried my best to cover all the angles and help you regardless of whether your lawn is covered in snow or not. Apply what you have just learned, and you’ll have a healthy, green lawn next spring!
If you have additional questions, leave a comment. Please share the article so everyone can prepare their lawns for the first winter storm.