Winter Lawn Care
Beautiful Grass: Saving Your Lawn from Winter Kill
With the onset of thaws and first sunny days in early spring, homeowners wonder how to make their lawns that used to be emerald green last summer look well-groomed again.
There are a few simple DONT’S that will help lawn owners save their lawns through winter and make spring care easier.
Don’t shovel snow from driveways, patios and perimeter paths on your lawn. An unmelted snow pile on the edge of your walkway will cause bald patches on the grass. Remove snow from your plot or garden and distribute it over a large area.
Don’t trample over and don’t ski on the snow in places where perennial grasses grow. Compacted snow melts much longer than loose snow, and it will take a lot of time for the stunted grass in such patches to blend in with the rest of the lawn.
Don’t make a skating rink out of your lawn. The ice crust disrupts the air exchange and the temperature profile on the surface of the soil and creates unfavorable wintering conditions for the lawn. This is especially noticeable in the years when snow sets in early. Grass still grows when it gets covered with snow and it continues to use its meager supplies of nutrients and insufficient sunlight. As a result, under the ice, part of the lawn will rot and die, and snow mold will develop. To help your lawn, you can break the ice crust and let grass breathe. Using deicer on perennial grasses is not recommended as excessive soil salinity affects growth.
Don’t let your pets walk or play on the snow-covered lawn. This results in dirt, pits and dead areas that will be especially noticeable after snow melts and cause additional costs.
To increase winter hardiness of your lawn, mow down to 6-10 cm in late October or early November, or after new grass stops growing. High dry grass also attracts rodents, who create burrows under the snow, making the lawn look unattractive in the spring. Winter hardiness of the lawn can be increased by fertilizing grass in September. Use fertilizers with high phosphorus and potassium contents. Don’t use nitrogen fertilizers in autumn as they stimulate growth.
Even before snow starts melting, clean your lawn from debris and twigs. Before spring works, thawed soil should dry and warm up. Stay off the sodden turf during this time because you will leave deep tracks.
To make spring and summer care of the lawn easier, the diligent owner should consider purchasing an advanced electric or gas-powered scarifier or verti-cutter or, at least, a simpler lawn aerator to replace conventional forks and rakes.