In this morning's Owning Your Outdoors, our yard and garden expert Doug Schroeder from Lewis, has some tips for getting your yard prepared for winter. Doug says a little work now will keep your lawn looking great through the fall and give it a head start after the snow melts in the spring.
Mowing the lawn:
It's time to start reducing the length of your grass. Gradually drop the height of your lawn mower over your next several mowings. Doug says you should do it gradually because you never want to mow off more than one third of the blade of the grass. Shortening it anymore than that could cause harm. If you don't reduce the length of your grass before the snow flies, you're inviting pests like Voles and making it easier for fungus and other disease to thrive. Shortening the length of the grass also helps the sunlight reach the crown of the grass which will help your turf.
Raking your leaves:
Rake your leaves. Doug suggests removing leaves as they fall, doing it over multiple raking sessions throughout the fall. You should not leave leaves in your yard through the winter. Leaving leaves through he winter will invite fungus and could actually suffocate part of the lawn, leaving you with dead spots in the spring.
Aerating your lawn:
Aeration actually pulls plugs of sod out of your yard, allowing water, fertilizer and oxygen to reach the roots. Aerating your lawn makes it much healthier. Doug says that aerating every other year should be more than enough for most yards. That could change, however depending on the soil type and the amount of traffic your yard gets. For example, if you have kids that spend a lot of time running around in your yard the soil may get compacted. If that's the case, aerating every year would not be a bad idea.
If you are only going to fertilize your yard once in a year, do it in the fall. Fall is the most important time to fertilize. Doug says that with the amount of rain we've had recently, the lawns look very green and healthy and that might be a bit deceiving. We still need to feed the roots. As we go further into fall, the grass will seem to slow its growth, but the roots are still growing underground.
There are a number of good fertilizers that you can use. Use something labeled "for fall use."
Edging your sidewalk:
Doug recommends edging your sidewalk and driveway in the fall. This has no impact on the health of your lawn, but it does give you a nice, defined edge for your shovel or snowblower in the winter.