How to - Lawn Care

Put your lawn to bed for the winter

Adrienne Brown

Take action now to ensure a lush, healthy lawn come spring

When your yard is covered in a blanket of snow, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the grass underneath it. That’s okay if you’ve prepped your lawn for winter weather. If you haven’t, your grass may not come back lush and beautiful in the spring.

Mark Wiens, owner of Mark Wiens Community Lawn Care in Vancouver, says most people stop thinking about their lawns once the weather cools down.

A little fertilizer and TLC is all your lawn needs before the long winter ahead.

Start by fertilizing
Autumn is the best time to give your lawn a good, hearty meal. “Fertilizer is food for plants. It provides all the necessary nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium,” says Kristian Stephens, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute’s (CFI) resident agronomist.

The “four Rs of fertilizer use”
Stephens says the best way to care for your lawn is to follow the four Rs:

Right source: Test your soil to determine exactly what type of fertilizer you need and in what dose you need to buy.

Right rate: Even distribution is important. How much fertilizer you need depends on the size of your lawn, so know how big a space you have and apply fertilizer with a spreader at the rate recommended on the label.

Right place: Fertilizer is for lawns only! It can’t do its job if it’s not on the lawn. If you have some rogue fertilizer, sweep it back onto your grass, don’t leave it on concrete.

Right time: It’s best to fertilize in spring or fall. Watch the weather and don’t apply if your area is expecting heavy rain or snow. If the ground is frozen, it’s too late.

“Fall and winter fertilizers are the most important fertilizers and will do the most to help the lawn overwinter,” says Wiens.

If you have a new lawn (under two years old), the CFI recommends choosing a fertilizer high in phosphorus.

Dos and don’ts for fall fertilization
  • Do fertilize before winter weather descends. It will help your plants survive hibernation.
  • Do read all the instructions on your fertilizer bag. Every package may be slightly different.
  • Do sweep any excess fertilizer from your driveway or sidewalk back onto your lawn.
  • Do remove all furniture, ornaments and decorations from your lawn for the winter and before fertilizing, or else you could end up with brown spots in spring.
  • Don’t apply fertilizer when the ground is frozen or if there is snow.
  • Don’t fertilize near waterways.

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