October 3, 2011

Winterize Lawn

We've talked about winterizing your sprinkler system, now it's time to point out some important factors to consider as we prepare you lawn for the winter months.

Some questions we will address:

  • How often should I water my lawn during the winter?
  • Should I mow my lawn, and how short do I need to cut it?
  • Should I fertilize during the winter
While the answers to some of these questions might seem like common sense, it is always good to clear the air and address the concerns anyway, just so that nobody is left in the dark and to make sure that we are all on the same page.

Watering your lawn during winter

As cooler weather intensifies, grass does not need as much irrigation as it did during the heat of the summer. Now is the perfect opportunity to conserve water. A great deal of water can be wasted in the fall because irrigation controllers are not adjusted for cooler temperatures. -Kelly Kopp; Water Conservation & Turfgrass Specialist
So the first thing you are going to want to do is to open up your Orbit irrigation timers and shut your sprinklers off. There is no sense in throwing away water and especially money. Your lawn is ready to coast on down with the temperature of the next few months.

Mowing during Winter

Because you will not be supplying your lawn with water and the sun won't be shining near as much this time of year, your lawn will experience little to no growth so chances are, you will not have to mow for at least a couple months.
However, the final mow is important should be done deliberately.
Prepare for the final mowing. As the weather gets cooler, your lawn will grow more slowly. At some point soon, you will perform your last mowing of the growing season. This is a critical time in the life and health of your lawn. A healthy mowing height of 2 1/2 –3 1/2 inches promotes root growth and stress tolerance during the summer, but your final mowing height of the season should be much shorter. A mowing height of 1 to 1 1/2 inches will reduce the chances of snow mold disease. Grass blades left long over the winter can lie over and increase humidity beneath snow cover. If there is lengthy snow cover, snow mold disease may occur. -Kelly Kopp;

Fertilize During Winter

Apply your last fertilization. After your final mowing is the best time to apply your last fertilization of the growing season. Nitrogen is of primary concern. Following the last mowing, apply 1 pound of quick-release nitrogen fertilizer per thousand square feet of lawn. It is important to use a quick-release nitrogen source so that grass can take it up before going dormant when the cold weather hits. This is probably the most critical fertilization of the entire growing season and should not be missed. Research has shown that this late fall fertilization provides the most benefit and drought tolerance to the lawn the following summer. -Kelly Kopp;
The owner of Turner Turf farms recommends fertilizing twice throughout winter. Once at the beginning, as described by Kelly Kopp, and then again a month later. Fertilization will make a big difference in the health of your lawn come summer.

Follow these three simple steps and you will have a happy and healthy lawn next season! Good luck.


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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