Taking care of your lawn during the summer is pretty straightforward: water, mow, pull the occasional weed, repeat. There are a few steps to winterize the lawn. Preparing your lawn for winter may take a little more work up front, but when done correctly, your grass will be healthier when it grows back in the spring.
Before moving into our first home, I had no idea that there were different kinds of fertilizer used at different times of the year. The difference between springtime fertilizer and fall fertilizer is the ratio between nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Each of these nutrients helps the lawn in different ways. For example, you might see the numbers 24-2-8 on a bag of fertilizer. Each number tells you how much of each nutrient is in the fertilizer. As the temperature cools down, grass grows slower or becomes dormant and fertilizing it helps increase the likelihood that you’ll have healthy grass in the spring. (To find out what type of fall fertilizer you need to buy, you can go to a garden shop and get more information from someone who works there.)
Yet another term I’d never heard of until becoming a homeowner, dethatching is basically the process of removing extra dead/dying grass from your lawn. This prevents helps your grass get the oxygen it needs to grow strong. To dethatch your lawn, the best thing to do is get a dethatching blade for your lawnmower and mow the lawn as you normally would, making sure to throw away the clippings. The best time to dethatch your lawn is when it is beginning to cool down and you notice that your grass isn’t growing.
Cut Your Grass Short
Another way you can winterize your lawn is by cutting your grass extra short before it snows. You can do this by setting it to the lowest/shortest setting on your mower. This prevents fungus from growing during the months when it is wetter and the ground is more moist. Coupling this with dethatching is a great way to keep your grass healthy.
Turn Off Sprinklers
If you are in an area where it snows or your lawn doesn’t need to be watered during the winter, you will need to make sure that you turn off your sprinklers before the cold weather hits. The best way to know when is to watch the weather. Pay attention to when they expect the temperature to hit freezing and turn them off before that point.
Clear Water Out of Pipes
You will need to make sure that there isn’t any water left in your pipes. If there is, it can freeze and weaken or crack your sprinkler pipe, leading to leaks that will have to be repaired, which can be costly and time-consuming. There are a couple ways you can do this: 1) By manually opening the valves to release the pressure, or 2) using an air compressor to push remaining water out.
Depending on where you live, some of these steps may not be necessary. However, learning how to winterize your lawn will help keep your grass healthy in the long run.