How to - Lawn Care

Put your lawn to bed for the winter

By
Adrienne Brown

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


Leftover fertilizer
If you find yourself with extra fertilizer, don’t just dump it on your lawn. Stephens suggests sharing it with a friend or neighbour. You can also keep extra fertilizer for next year in a cool, dry spot in a sealed container.

Mow to just the right length
Cutting your lawn puts some stress on the grass. This is okay in summer when it has lots of sun and water to recover, but may be a bit harsh when the weather cools down.

For your last mow of the season, leave your grass about three inches high, says Stephens. “You need foliage to catch the sunlight.” So, even if you normally cut your lawn shorter, adjust for the final cut of the season. You shouldn’t need to mow after the first frost.

Don't mulch during the last few cuts, says Wiens. “As the break down of organic materials slows down when the weather turns cold, and as the mulch may cover existing grass, it may do more harm than good.” Also, be careful if you still have leaves to clear. “By using a rake, you also take out some excess thatch which may suffocate the lawn,” says Wiens.

Proper drainage is important
If you live in an area with high rainfall during the winter, you may want to aerate your lawn in the fall, says Wiens. Then, add a soil mixture high in sand content and rake it into the holes from your aeration. This will help your lawn drain properly.

If you need to reseed
If your lawn wasn’t quite up to its usual standard this past summer, you may need to put some extra work in to get it to come back fuller and better next year.

“Reseeding in the fall is actually the best time to do it, providing that you live in an area were the lawn will not be covered in leaves,” says Wiens. In places like Vancouver, the ground is still warm, and there is often ample precipitation for grass to germinate.

Even better, says Wiens, when temperatures are lower, there's more room for error if you forget to water!

Be gentle
Avoid damaging your lawn when it’s frozen by staying off it as much as possible. Driving on your lawn or too much foot traffic can kill grass, so stay off (although this can be hard when you have kids who want to play in the snow!)

Your lawn will be in hibernation over the winter, but this doesn’t mean you can treat it differently than any other season. “Anything you wouldn't do at other times of the year, keep on refraining from it in the winter!” says Wiens.


photo courtesty of The Canadian Fertilizer Institute

 

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