With the way the weather has been performing this year, there’s no telling when fall may arrive and who knows how closely winter will be on its tail!
The change in the seasons requires preparation when it comes to your lawn for a green spring, so we thought we’d start the conversation now. It never hurts to get a head start and set up a plan so when those first days of chill arrive you and your lawn will be ready!
Although we don’t have extreme winters here in North Texas, we do have our own set of winter challenges. When freezing temperatures start to kick in around late November, the weather hits us with unpredictable bursts of freezing rain and sleet that can arrive with little-to-no warning.
Here are ten tips on how to prep for those winter challenges, to protect your lawn, and get a good showing in the spring.
1. Start with a clean slate.
We know that when heavy leaf fall happens, it’s tempting just to leave the leaves where they land but prepping your lawn for winter requires starting with a clean slate.
Before doing anything else, make sure your lawn is free of all debris. Rake up any leaf fall as it happens to make the job less overwhelming
2. Get that final mow (or two) in.
Resist the temptation to scalp your lawn in the fall, instead, leave the grass at least 2” high.
3. Aerate. Aerate.
After your final lawn mowing, aerate your lawn. If you are not familiar with aeration, it is the process of perforating your lawn with small holes so that air, water, and nutrients can make their way quickly into the soil. This will ensure that your lawn can absorb every ounce of the nutrients that it needs to come back full and healthy.
4. Top dress your lawn.
Apply compost over the entire surface of the lawn. This is an inexpensive way to green up your lawn quickly. Annual applications of nutrient-rich organic material infuse the soil with microbes and essential minerals, which promotes healthy root and soil structure.
Topdressing also increases soil aeration, improves drought resistance, and relieves compaction problems. With all of these benefits, you can see that it is worth it to take the time to do it.
A basic topdressing mix contains 40% turkey and dairy compost, 30% pine humus, 20% ground cottonseed, and 10% sand. This mixture is safe, odorless, and not muddy, so there’s no need to worry about your pets or kids after you top dress the lawn.
5. Fertilize your lawn.
Fertilization is the most commonly known and foolproof way to nurture your lawn so that it can stay green and lush. The most important fertilization of the year happens in the fall, so make sure to set aside time in September to do it.
If you use a 3-1-2 ratio formula or buy a “winterize” product, the “slow-release” feature of these products will feed your lawn through early November. Fertilization combined with regular watering will produce a hardy rootstock that will survive the winter.
6. Keep watering your lawn.
Even though your lawn goes dormant during the winter months, the grass is still living and needs moisture for survival. Watering recommendations for the fall and winter are to water the lawn 1/2 inch per week when rainfall is lacking.
Also, make sure to drain and remove your garden hoses from their outlets before the first freeze hits. And cover your outdoor faucets to prevent damage brought on by freezing temperatures. This little bit of attention will save you plenty of time and money in the long run.
7. Get control of those weeds before they control you!
Fall is the perfect time to weed out the weeds and apply pre-emergent chemicals to control unwanted weeds and grasses. Your first step in weed control is to identify the type of weed you need to control.
Then go to the nursery or your local home store and ask for their recommendation on the best product to kick those weeds out.
8. Keep an eye out for fungal diseases.
Fungal diseases love the cool weather so they can really take hold in the fall. Monitor your lawn carefully. Brown Patch and Take-All Root Rot are the two most common fungal diseases that affect the St Augustine grasses most commonly used in our North Texas lawns.
Our recent rains and high humidity followed by a cooling trend will create a breeding ground for these diseases. If you suspect a problem, contact an expert to help you diagnose the root of the problem and work with you on solving it.
9. Bring in or cover potted plants.
When the temperatures drop, it’s not just your lawn that needs your attention. Your potted beauties need to be taken into account too. Not all potted plants must be brought inside during the winter; some just need to be covered or placed in protective areas.
Double-check what each species can handle and what is suggested in regards to how to over-winter each plant.
10. Chill out by the chiminea.
After you’ve taken these steps, it’s time to take a break. You’ve been good to your lawn now it’s time to relax until spring when you can reap the rewards!
Just because the summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean its time to turn your back on your lawn. Your lawn is as important in the fall as in the spring and summer.
If you’re unsure of which steps to take, need help diagnosing some of those pesky diseases or are ready to jump straight to the chilling (not by the chiminea yet, maybe just the pool) contact our full-service Complete Landscultpure Team.
Our specialists offer expertise, experience, and professionalism, truly the Complete approach, to residential and commercial landscape and outdoor living environments. We will help you realize your vision and maintain a beautiful outdoor atmosphere year-round including the spring!