Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Winter draws in and the days of relaxing in the sunshine on your beautifully manicured lawn are a distant memory, replaced by the sight of wet, cold and soggy grass and leaves and the nagging thought that you should be doing some work - maybe our winter lawn care tips will help. It is not too late to spend a few hours ensuring your turf survives in the best way and comes out fighting when spring finally arrives, heralding a new year of fresh growth.
We will cover what you should be doing in the five main areas of lawn care as well as a final top tip for anyone considering laying a new lawn in the spring.
Tip #1: Mowing
As autumn turns to winter and before the first snowfall hits, it is time to start dropping the height of your mower blade to take off any of the final young growth of the year. This young grass is less robust than the crown at the base of the plant and is easily affected by snow and frost which can lead to winter diseases finding an accommodating home.
Mowing back this young growth can be done gradually over a number of weeks to minimize the shock to the turf.
Throughout the rest of winter, the grass becomes mostly dormant and only in extended periods of milder weather will the grass start to grow and may need a very slight trim to keep it in check. If so, raise the blade height up to just cut the tips.
Tip #2: Feeding
Generally, the advice here is to not feed your lawn over winter. The turf is in a state of almost hibernation over the cold period and isn't putting any new growth out as it is too vulnerable to the weather and winter diseases that can attack damaged and broken blades. Spring and summer nitrogen based feeds will cause the grass to sprout. If you are preparing for the spring and must feed, there are some potash and phosphorus based fertilizers specifically designed for autumn and winter can encourage healthy growth. These specialist winter lawn fertilizers are available from normal outlets.
Tip #3: Aeration
After a summer and autumn of hard use, some parts of your lawn may have become compacted. As discussed in the lawn aeration section, a healthy lawn needs to get air, moisture and nutrients down to the roots so a light session of aeration before the first snows and frosts come can help prepare the turf for winter and the coming spring. Simply walk it with some lawn aeration shoes or use a hollow tine or drum aerator for larger lawns to break up the soil.
You will notice that worms are relatively inactive in the winter as they head deeper away from the cold. When you start to see the worm casts appear in spring you know it is time to get ready to spruce the lawn up again as winter is ending.
Tip #4: Scarifying
The continuous damp weather of winter is the ideal breeding ground for many diseases that can effect your turf. Clearing moss, leaves and other debris before the first snows and frosts and then keeping the turf as clear as possible can minimize these issues and leave the grass ready to spring back in the new year.
Tip #5: Watering
As with feeding your lawn over winter, you shouldn't need to water it either saving another chore. The grass will slow down its requirements for water and food and as it effectively hibernates through the cold patch, storing its energy in the base of the blade and the roots. If it has been a very dry autumn before, water well when the snows and frost clear in early spring to maximize the turfs ability to bounce back.
Tip #6: Preparation for a new lawn
If you are preparing to lay a new lawn in the spring, breaking the ground up in the winter is a great way to get the earth loosened up and full of air pockets. As moisture seeps in between the grains of soil and then freezes, the water expands as it becomes ice and forces the grains apart splitting any stubborn, hard clumps of soil. Prepared this way, you start the new year with a well aerated, loose soil perfect for early seeding and saving you a lot of backbreaking work.
Winter is a great time to sit back and leave the lawn be as the natural processes slow to a minimum and the inclement weather keeps you indoors. After you have prepared the turf for the new year with our winter lawn care tips, it is the perfect time to contemplate next years tasks and sit back and learn with a lawn care book!

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