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How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter in Burke, VA

Everyone thinks about their lawn in summer and spring as that’s when they are enjoying the outdoors. The truth is keeping your lawn healthy and lush takes year-round care even in the cold season. Taking steps to winterize your lawn in Fall means your grass will come back to life better. Here are some winter lawn care tips that can help you prepare your grass for winter and cultivate strong growth in spring.

1. Mow the grass

Dropping temperatures don’t mean your lawn grass will cease growing. Grass will continue growing until the first hard frost of winter arrives. If you leave your grass to grow too long, it may end up matting and become probe to fungi. Long grass also creates a nice nesting area for insects and mice. So, make sure you mow the grass before it gets too cold. Mow your lawn every 10-14 days in the fall. On the final mow, cut the grass so it’s about 3/4 to 1.5 inches tall. Any shorter and you could curtail the growth of grassroots and reduce the grass’s ability to endure the cold and dry winter weather.

2. Tidy up the lawn

Clear your lawn of fall twigs, limbs, storm debris, toys, lawn furniture, and end-of-season leaf matter. Leaving items on your dormant lawn over winter can create dead spots where they sit. Lawn grass doesn’t have the best conditions to replenish itself in fall. Any debris left on the lawn can smother the grass. Make sure you rake fallen leaves as they can suffocate the grass below and stop light from penetrating. Such items may also create a wet environment that could harbor snow mold and encourage diseases. When you mow the lawn, you also get to chop up the leaf matter. It’s a great alternative to raking the dead leaves. Chopped leaves can work like mulch and won’t obstruct sunlight or trap moisture.

3. Aerate the soil

At the start of fall, you’ll also want to aerate your soil. Lawn aeration helps break up compacted soil, allowing air and vital nutrients to infiltrate the grassroots. With no stems, debris, or root layers to block oxygen and water, nutrients and air will reach the root system of grass plants. Besides relieving soil compaction, aeration will also inhibit weed growth and pests, meaning your grass will grow healthy. You can use a border fork, a core aerator, or a hollow tine aerator to aerate the soil. But first, use a rake to remove any thatch that’s built up on your lawn first.

4. Fertilize the lawn

Fall is an excellent time to fertilize your lawn. Applying zero-phosphate fertilizer just before winter sets in is a great way to replenish your soil for a healthy regrowth in the fall. Remember, your soil may be depleted of nutrients after a season of robust growth. Get a soil test kit and take soil from various spouts around the lawn to get a general idea of how the soil is doing. Soil test results will help you determine what nutrients the lawn is lacking.

Most plants, including grass benefit from phosphorous. However, there’s the risk of overdoing it. Too much phosphorous in the soil reduce the ability of the root system of your plants to absorb other vital nutrients they need to thrive. Save the phosphorous fertilizer for the post-dormancy period. We recommend potassium as it is crucial for plant root survival. Potassium can promote root growth, protect against diseases and help the roots withstand the cold.

5. Look Out for Weeds

Winter weeds grow and thrive in a dormant lawn especially in low temperatures. Common chickweed, speedwell, hairy bittercress always seek out very available space where your turf has tweaked to take over. You may not notice them right away until their roots have taken hold. To stop weeds from taking over, use selective herbicides. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using them as they can damage your grass.

5. Spread Cool-Weather Grass Seed

To ensure your lawn looks good in winter, spread “cool weather” seed over it after aeration and fertilization. Spreading seeds can help promote the growth of more lawn grass that covers any bare patches in your lawn. It can also encourage the growth of a denser turf that discourages weeds from sprouting. You can use the same spreader you used for the fertilizer. After seeding the lawn, water it so the soil stays moist as the new grass starts to sprout.

6. Keep off the Grass

Do your best to stay out of the grass. Stay on walkways wherever possible and avoid parking your car on a winter lawn. If debris can smother your grass, think of how much damage your feet might cause. Lawn grass isn’t capable of bouncing back when it’s dormant as it usually does in warmer months. Come winter and the ice will complete the damage. If you walk the same path daily, you’ll notice that the grass under your feet struggling to regain its lusciousness and color in spring.

7. Limit Snow and Ice Chemicals

It’s tempting to go on the onslaught against ice with chemicals. That’s not a wise move. Ice chemicals can damage or even destroy delicate lawn grass in the dormant season. If you must use chemicals to control snow or ice, look for plant-friendly de-icing products. Even so, try to keep them away from the grass section or areas where runoff usually occurs.

8. Apply top dressing

You may also need to add top dressing to thin areas of your lawn. What this does is smoothen the lawn surface and reduce the accumulation of thatch by encouraging decomposition. Make sure the topsoil infiltrates the aerated holes to ensure your grass develops strong, deeper roots.

Need Lawn Care Before Winter? Mow Cow can Help

When you’re facing freezing temperatures, it’s important to think about how your lawn will fare in the winter months. MowCow can help you prepare your lawn grass for the cold season, including aeration, soil tests for acidic soils, seeding, fertilization, and lawn care. We have the experience and tools to keep the soil moist and protect the root system from diseases and weeds. Call 703-223-8597 for a free quote for our lawn care services in Burke, VA.

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