How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter


The cold is here, and you may be getting into the spirit of the holiday season. While most people decorate their homes, buy gifts, and book hotels for a vacation, they tend to forget about the lawn. Yes, preparing your lawn for the winter isn’t an easy job. However, it’s necessary. You can either search for “landscape companies near me” and hire professionals to do it for you or work those muscles and get it done by yourself.

The Preparation

  1. Adjust the mower height – People tend to scalp their lawn before the winter arrives. However, scalping is necessary for only certain varieties of warm-season grasses. If your lawn mostly has zoysia, St. Augustine, centipede, and other such varieties, you don’t need to cut them too low when the winter arrives. Instead, raise the height of the mower by around one inch.

This helps the grass to increase the surface area of the grass blades. When grass has more leaf area it is able to capture more sunlight and make more food. This helps the grass to store more food in its roots before severe cold hits. Moreover, the increased surface area makes the lawn denser. This eliminates the possibilities of weed germination and also discourages weed growth even when the grass is dormant.

  1. Use fertilizer for cool-season grass – If you have a cool-season lawn, you should consider fertilizing it just before winter arrives. Professionals recommend fertilizing your cool-season turf at least once every year and this time is the best. You need to add the fertilizer before the grass starts drying out and loses color from the cold wind.

When you add fertilizer during the fall season it promotes leaf development which facilitates more food production and storage in the roots. The food stored in the roots gets your turf through the harsh cold season and also helps them turn greener more quickly when the snow melts and spring arrives. You can also research more to figure out the best fertilizing timing for your region.

  1. Repair bare patches – During the fall season, you’ll find a few bare patches popping up on your lawn. You can fix bare patches by seeding them with new grass. New grass can germinate during the fall season and establish its roots to grow quickly. Make sure that you water them well and also keep off the seeded area and its surroundings so that the soil doesn’t get compacted, and roots can establish well.
  1. Get rid of weeds – During the dormant cold season, perennial cool-season weeds like to attack your turf and snatch away space and resources from the grass. You can prevent that by treating your lawn with pre-emergent herbicide during the early fall season. However, this works best with cool-season turfs.

A lot of cold season weed seeds may fall on your lawn during early summer, right before the temperatures soar. They hide in the soil and when temperatures are low during the cool season they like to germinate and take over your turf. Herbicide helps to prevent that. Herbicide sprayed during the fall season also reduces the weed numbers during the spring season the following year.

  1. Rake leaves – make sure that you take care of dead leaves throughout the fall season. If dead leaves accumulate on your lawn for more than a few days, they will damage the grass blades. Raking leaves becomes exceedingly important if you have cool-season grass that’s still growing this period.

Leaves cover the grass and reduce the amount of sunlight that can reach the grass leaves. However, your turf needs as much sunlight as possible during the fall season to make food and increase its storage in the roots for the winter season. If you don’t rake leaves now, you’ll lose a significant portion of your turf during the cold winter.

  1. Mow the leaves – Ok raking leaves isn’t an easy job. You need to spend hours raking them every day. You may feel like you’re wasting too much energy and time on manual labor. Fortunately, there’s an alternative. Start the mulching mower and make a few passes with it over the lawn. You can catch the mowed dead leaves in a catcher bag at the back. You can use these mowed and chopped leaves for your compost pile or your new plant bed.
  1. Don’t step on the wet grass – If there’s rain during the fall season, the soil gets drenched and full of water. This compromises the soil structure and makes it easily cave in and compact with a minimal amount of pressure. That’s why you shouldn’t step on the lawn. It can destroy the aeration that the grassroots need to survive now and during the cold winter. Also, avoid raking leaves from your lawn during this time. You don’t want to pull grass along with its roots from the soil.
  1. Aerate your lawn – Aerating works when you hit the timing right. You need to aerate your turf when the grass is in its most active growth phase. Warm seasons turf should be aerated during late spring while cool-season turfs should be aerated during early fall. It gives the turf at least a month to recover and grow before the frost hits.

To aerate your lawn, you have plenty of options. The best way is to go traditional. Use a manual aerator and pull small plugs of soil from the lawn with your physical might. You can also go the easy route and add an aeration attachment to your mower. When you mow down those dead leaves, you can aerate the soil as well. You can also rent an aerator used by professionals.


Now that you know everything about taking care of your lawn and all the necessary steps, you should use that elbow grease and get to work as soon as possible. If it seems too overwhelming or you can’t make time, you can search for “landscape companies near me” and outsource the work to the pros.

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