People that live in northern climates know all-too-well how shocking the temperature differences can be between fall and winter. The adjustment can be just as difficult for your lawn and landscaping as it is for the humans that work so hard to maintain it during the warmer months.
Shutting down your grounds in preparation for the impending cold is critical to making sure it bounces back to its original form next season. You don’t have to be a horticultural expert to prepare your lawn for the winter. Here are a few basic steps you can take to give your plants and grass a long and happy winter’s sleep.
“I’m hungry.” – Your Grass
Your lawn is going to be dormant for a few months while it rides out the cold temperatures. Like an infant with a full tummy, your lawn will sleep much better if you provide it a proper meal before it goes to bed. There’s a lot of plant science behind this recommendation. It involves a lot of chemistry and botany. If you want to learn more about why it’s important, check out this article from This Old House. Otherwise, pick up a bag or two of fall or winter lawn fertilizer from your hardware store and a spreader if you don’t have one. Alternatively, you could hire a company to manage your lawn’s fertilization. Either way, this is important if you want to prevent a patchy, discolored, half-dead lawn in the spring.
Compost: The Circle of Life
The further into fall we get the more decaying material will show up as leaves and plants start to die. Turn those dead piles into the lifeblood of future generations of flowers and plants by creating a compost pile. Buy a bin or container and install somewhere on your grounds. When organic material around your lawn and garden starts to die, throw it in the bin. With time, you’ll have nutrient-rich slurry of goodness your still-alive plants will go crazy for. Check out this previous Zing blog article on how to build a first-class compost pile. It’s kind of gross if you think about it, plants eating themselves. But that’s nature.
Your Garden’s Dead, Bro
Those beautiful annuals that you planted in the spring sure looked nice. But by now, they’re probably clinging to life and looking pretty awful. Clear your dead plants out of the beds and throw them onto your beautiful new compost pile. Then, make sure to properly care for whatever perennial plants you may have around your lawn and garden. This includes splitting your perennials to ensure optimal growth. Learn more on how to do that with this article from Fine Gardening. Finally, don’t forget your soil. At a minimum, you should turn it over with a rake, bringing the healthier soil to the surface. Layer in some of that compost you’ve been marinating to give it a nutrient boost.
Rake Those Leaves
We all know that raking stinks. Even though there are lots of ways to de-leaf your lawn without working too hard, it’s a chore that many put off or don’t do at all. A thick blanket of leaves can suffocate your grass. Be diligent and make sure you’re blowing off, shredding down or raking off big piles of leaves to make sure your grass can breathe.
Last Minute Maintenance
There are a couple of last-minute grounds keeping items you need to cross off your list before you hunker down for winter. First, make sure your sprinkler system is winterized by a professional. Frozen water is bad for the lines and can lead to expensive repairs. Also, make sure your gutters are free and clear of leaves and debris to ensure the integrity of your gutter and drainage systems. Lastly, if you live in a cold climate, make sure to shut off your outside water taps to prevent freezing potential pipe damage.
With a little time and diligence, you’ll have your lawn and garden ready for snow, ice and colder temperatures. It may seem like a pain today; but think of all that time you’ll save over the winter you’ll save by not having to cut your grass or tend to your plants.
Oh, that’s right. You have to shovel snow.