As the days start to get shorter, it is that time of year that you need to start thinking about getting your lawn ready for winter. The better you prepare your lawn for the cold, dark winter, the less work you will have to put into it when spring arrives next year. Follow these tips, and your lawn will be healthy, green, and the envy of your neighbors.
Lower the height of your lawnmower
Gradually reduce the height of your lawnmower each time you mow so that towards the end of the mowing season, the grass should be about 1-1½ inches long. Don’t mow down to this length right away or else you will damage your grass. The shorter grass will make it easier to rake, aerate, and fertilize it later.
Aerate your lawn
A highly trafficked lawn can get too compact for water, air, and nutrients to be fully absorbed. Aerating your lawn gives space for roots to grow as well as allows the grass to absorb what it needs to get healthy. The plugs also will decompose and act as a fertilizer themselves. Make sure your lawn isn’t too dry or too soggy before you aerate for the best results.
Top dress sparse areas of your lawn
Spread compost or rich soil over parts of your lawn that are struggling the most. Spread it to about ½ inch thick over these areas. Make sure your compost is cool and dry before you spread it on your lawn. Warm, moist compost still carries bacteria and pathogens that will do more harm than good to your lawn.
Once you have done those first three steps, now is the time to apply fertilizer. Try to spread it evenly throughout your lawn. Use a high phosphorus fertilizer to help stimulate root growth in your grass. Make sure you are moving your rotary spreader before you open the hopper so that you don’t dump too much in one spot.
Apply grass seed
Spread grass seed on the areas that you put down compost to help grass grow back to those spots during the spring. Any excess seed can be spread throughout your lawn as well. This will help increase the thickness of your lawn and help it recover quicker if the winter is especially harsh.
Rake the grass
Rake your lawn to break up any fungus that has started to grow near the roots. Raking also will pull away excess dead grass as well, allowing the fertilizer and grass seed easier access to the soil. Flip the rake upside down when raking the compost as this will keep you from raking up the compost you just spread out.