Thursday, December 13, 2012
Suburban News

Follow these steps to keep your lawn healthy throughout the winter and prepared for next spring.

1. Clear away the clutter. Pick up a rake or leaf blower and clean up after your trees. If those beautiful leaves are left on the lawn, they will block the light and air from reaching your turf – actually suffocating your lawn.

2. Cut away loose ends. After the leaves have been cleared and your grass has become yellow and dormant, lower your blades to a cutting height of two inches. Cutting down the excess on the last mow of the season will set you up for a healthier start to the next season. Moisture can get trapped in longer grass, increasing your chances for disease and fungus come spring.

3. Tend to the roots. Don’t forget the health of your turf depends strongly on the root system. Aeration relieves impacted lawns and allows air and water to penetrate the soil, getting essential nutrients to the root system, including nutrients from fertilizers, compost, or compost tea.

4. Give your lawn strength-building vitamins. Hibernating animals still need to eat occasionally, and so will your lawn during its long winter’s nap. The cold weather will slow down the break down of nutrients. Using a sustained-release product will ensure you have provided the nutrients your lawn will need throughout the winter and result in a faster greening in the spring.

The benefits of late-season fertilization are:

  • Even though grass blades do not grow in the cold, the roots continue to be active in absorbing nitrogen.
  • Since the blade will not grow, the growth is directed instead to the root system creating more established, far-reaching roots, which promote overall health even on into the spring and summer.
  • Chlorophyll, the component that makes a plant green and healthy, is enhanced with nitrogen in fertilizers.
  • A larger chlorophyll presence increases photosynthesis and therefore the lawn creates more sugars.
  • Like the human body, when sugars cannot be used for growth, they are stored. They will be used over longer periods to improve its chances of survival over the winter and rejuvenation in the spring.
  • The lawn’s greening will occur earlier in the spring because it will have nitrogen stores to pull from thanks to the late fall fertilizer.
  1. Even your lawn needs to be Hydrated. One last dose of water before the end of the season will help the plant to process the nitrogen and reap the benefits of the fertilizer application.6. Winterize your sprinkler system. This will save you the trouble and cost of repairs to broken water lines due to freezing water in the pipes. Should the winter prove extremely dry, a garden hose can be used to keep the lawn moist no more than every three weeks.7. Weeds may have a different dormant season. While your grass lies dormant, some weeds may continue to grow and pop up. For small patches, pull these weeds out by hand as quickly as possible. Applying a broad leaf control product to your lawn or problem areas can be a good idea to prevent a large spread.

    8. Test your soil before applying lime. Turf grasses can tolerate a range of pH values if properly fertilized. If a soil test shows the pH is below 5.5, you can add lime, but not at more than 35 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Read the full article.