Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

    Winterize Lawn — Chances are that nothing bad will happen to your yard and it will come right back in the spring even if you do nothing to prepare. Or… your sprinkler pipes could break and your grass could die.

    If you’re not up to a full winterizing of your lawn then here is your “I’m ready for winter in just one Saturday afternoon” list of essentials.

    1. Rake your leaves – If you only do one thing to prepare, do this.

    Leaves will smother your grass and turn it into a dirt patch (and next spring the neighbor kids will come over to play on the new “vacant lot”). If your aches, pains and other excuses are pretty convincing then hire your local 15 year-old to do it for you so he can buy more toilet paper for your yard, oh, wait-a-minute…

    You can save some of the leaves to put on your flowerbed to help prevent an early crop of weeds in the spring. When it warms up, rake, plant and you may win a prize for the best geraniums.

    2. Fertilize – Late fall (about a month before it usually freezes) is the best time to fertilize your lawn because it’s hungry! It’s been slurping nutrients out of the soil all summer to grow leaves and there’s not much left to eat. Fertilizing in the fall will help the roots survive hibernation and wake up quickly in the spring. A quick start in the spring will help prevent disease and weeds. Fertilizers like Scott’s Winterizer is specifically formulated for a feasty fall feeding.

    3. Cut your grass short – For most moist/wet climates you may want to give your grass a buzz cut before the snow flies. Generally, homeowners will mow twice in October and once in November because the grass is barely growing.

    Instead of skipping weeks in October, it can be better to drop the blade height one notch and mow every week until the grass is about three-fourths of an inch tall. This will prevent a build up of dead grass in the spring that may smother new growth.

    If you live in an arid climate (20 inches or less of rain per year) and you don’t have automatic sprinklers, skip weeks when the grass is barely growing. A moderate buildup of dead grass will help hold in ground moisture over the winter.

    Related Winterizing Issues

    1. Turn off your sprinklers – You’ll want to do this just before the temperature drops below freezing so your lawn doesn’t turn into an ice rink.

    2. Drain your sprinkler lines – Water expands when it freezes and could cause your sprinkler pipes to burst. Many sprinkler systems automatically drain, but you may have a valve you will need to open to let the water out.

    3. Your Lawnmower – Manufacturers recommend draining the gas out of your lawnmower before winter, but who wants to drain gasoline? The easiest way is to fill it with only enough gas to mow your lawn and then let the mower engine run out on your last cutting.

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