Transitioning from mild autumns to frosty winters can be an immense climate difference: we have to put away our tee-shirts and throw on our hefty winter jackets. Without them, we could get sick in the chilling temperatures. Just like us, our grass has different needs with the changing seasons too!
The winter arrives with lots of threats to our plants: snow molds, freezing temperatures, and precipitation changes are all challenges that our turf faces. In order to combat the environmental shifts, we need to prepare our lawn. Here are five measures you can take to protect your lawn before the first snowstorm arrives.
1. Cut your grass to 2.5 inches in length.
Just because winter is coming doesn’t necessarily mean to let your grass run wild! In fact, it’s beneficial to slowly reduce the blade height of your lawn before the first frost. Grass still needs to be lengthy in the winter to photosynthesize in the spring. When you know your expected frost date, it’s time to chop your grass blades to about 2.5 inches. This is the perfect length for winter protection— grass that is too long might welcome snow molds to grow, and too short can harm your turf’s growth.
2. Instead of raking, mow your leaves.
We know what you’re thinking: What, chop up my dirty, fallen leaves? Exactly correct! An excess amount of leaves should be avoided, but a thin blanket of fallen foliage can be ground up by your lawnmower. This shredded organic matter will decompose much quicker and provide your turf with nutrition throughout the season. When the spring arrives, the mulch will nourish the grass to be more vibrant and fuller than before. Leaf blowing and raking can be a hassle, so use this as an excuse to avoid cleaning up that last remaining blanket of leaves.
3. Use leaves for a mulch bed.
When you have pounds of potential compost for your disposal, why not use it to your advantage? Leaves are packed with nutrients like potassium and phosphorus that are ripe for the picking. In fact, 50 to 80 percent of all the nutrients trees obtain from the soil end up in their leaves. Simply mulch the leaves in your lawn to settle and over time they will nourish your grass with strengthening elements— but make sure the grass blades have partial access to sunlight! We still want the grass blades to peep through the mulch.
Not sure what to do with any leftover shredded leaves in your lawn? Just bag them with your mower and gently rake them throughout other areas of your yard that need a nutrient boost for the springtime. Garden beds, shrubs, and trees will benefit from the leaf mulch just as much as your lawn. This added layer will also keep the soil moist throughout the winter.
4. Sow grass seed into bare spots.
As odd as it might sound, fall is actually the perfect time to lay down some grass seed on bare spots in your yard. The milder temperatures encourage faster germination and the ground still holds some warmth. Even if the temperatures have already dropped significantly, you can still sow seeds in November. These seeds will remain dormant throughout the winter, but when spring arrives, they will be ready to sprout rapidly!
5. Cut down watering after the first frost.
Having moist soil throughout the winter is essential for your grass’s survival. Thankfully your lawn doesn’t lose much water throughout the winter because there is no blaring heat and bright sun to evaporate it all. This means there is less of a need to have your sprinklers running consistently (which will save you both money and time).
Still, as the weather becomes brisk and chilly, watch out for those freeze warnings! It’s important to water while the temperatures at night are above 40℉. Watering hours before a freeze can cause “frost heave”, which will uproot your grass and damage your lawn. As long as a freeze isn’t in your nearby future, light watering is beneficial to your grass throughout the winter months.
The first snowfall could surprise us any minute now. Take precautions to prepare and protect your lawn before the coming winter freeze. Call MissionGreen now at (413) 998-7829 to get a FREE quote and further shield your lawn from snow, molds, and seasonal damage today.