Tips to Make Winter Easier on Your Lawn and Garden
Photo by Angie Spratt at Unsplash
The great thing about lawns is that you don’t have to mow them year-round. Once the fall hits, you can slow down and eventually stop. But before you put the mower away for good, you have a little bit of maintenance to do to get your yard and garden ready for the winter.
The following are some tips for getting your lawn ready for winter.
Remove the leaves
Rake or blow your leaves into piles, then toss them onto your compost pile. Those leaves, along with the other waste you throw into the compost, will become rich, beautiful soil to grow your flowers and veggies next summer. If you leave the leaves on the grass, they’ll block out light and trap in moisture, which will kill your lawn.
Keep mowing until the lawn stops growing
On your last mow, lower the blade so you give the lawn an extra-shortcut, allowing sun and nutrients to get to your lawn’s roots.
Give your lawn some air
You can buy or rent an aeration machine to give your lawn’s roots more of a chance to get what they need. You should do this once every couple of years because grass and debris get compacted in the lawn and make it difficult for your grass to be healthy.
Give it some food
Fertilizing makes sure that your lawn gets all the nutrients it needs. Fertilizer has three numbers on it, indicating what nutrient levels it has (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium). Consider a late-fall application of a slow-release granular 24-0-10. The heavy nitrogen content will encourage root growth and aid in drought resistance, which will help your lawn make it through winter.
Add grass seed in the fall to help thicken up your lawn and discourage weeds. Of course, add the seed to bare patches, too.
Your garden needs some love as well. The following are some tips that will help keep your garden safe in the winter so that it thrives in the spring.
Give everything some water
Unless your fall has been particularly rainy, your plants will benefit from a nice dousing. Trees in particular need extra water to make it through the winter.
Plant your bulbs
Fall is the time to get bulbs, such as daffodils, Siberian squill, and fritillaria in the ground. Dig up and store your summer bulbs, such as dahlias, cannas, caladiums, callas, and other tender bulbs. Put them in peat moss or sand in a cool spot indoors for the winter.
Plant shrubs or evergreens
If you’re planning to plant these, now is the time. Early fall gives them enough of a chance to take hold before winter.
Get a pH test
Test your soil’s pH levels before you fertilize so you can choose a more accurate fertilizer level. You can add lime to your soil if needed.
Cut back and divide perennials
Divide your perennials if they have overgrown their space, and replant them elsewhere in your garden or give them away to friends and neighbors. Add sticks next to them, so that when they die back, you’ll know not to plant over them.
Plan for next year
Make a list of what worked well in your garden and what didn’t. If you planted a vegetable that didn’t yield well, explore why. If you don’t want to bother next year, write it down. You likely won’t remember all these details come springtime.
Add a layer of mulch
First, pull weeds and add a layer of compost. Then add a thin layer of mulch. Once the soil freezes, add another layer of mulch. If you make the mulch too thick too early, underground pests won’t die off in the winter.
With these simple chores, your lawn and garden will weather the seasons well and be ready to burst forth in the spring.