Winterizing your yard may take a lot of time and effort but it is very rewarding. In order for you to have the right lawn and garden look next spring, it is important that you properly care for your plants even before winter arrives. Although winterizing your lawn does not guarantee that your plants will be totally protected from damage, it decreases the risk of winter burn and other winter challenges. The following lawn winter care tips will help you preserve your greenery all year round.
Fertilize the Lawn
An essential winter lawn treatment tip is the proper use of fertilizers. The lawn and the garden should be fertilized until the end of October. If the fertilizer contains high amounts of nitrogen, its usage should be limited to mid-September. Once November starts, it is best to avoid using fertilizers.
One of the most vital winter lawn care tips is to always consider the needs of the grass being cultivated. For instance, warm weather grasses such as Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass prefer fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus and potassium. Bluegrass, Fescue grass and Ryegrass thrive when given nitrogen-rich fertilizers. If one wants organic and environment-friendly fertilizer, pelletized chicken manure can be chosen.
Adjust the pH
Winter lawn care also involves considering the status of the soil. Soil conditions also help determine the appropriate winter fertilizer for lawns. According to the site GeorgiaLawn.com, the ideal pH of lawn or garden soil ranges from 6 to 7.5. If the pH is below 6, the soil is acidic. If it is from 8 to 14, it is basic. If the soil is either acidic or basic, pH correction may be needed. One can hire a professional to investigate the pH of the soil. Afterwards, the soil pH can be increased by using lime or decreased by using sulfur.
Aerate the Lawn
The DIY Network recommends lawn aeration before winter arrives. Lawn aeration simply refers to the creation of small halls in the soil so that oxygen and fertilizer can enter easily. If this is not done, the grass will not get enough oxygen, leading to drying and eventually, death. A manual or an automatic aerator can be used but an easily-found substitute is a simple garden fork.
Seed the area
Seeding the garden is recommended before winter sets in. Weeds usually die after the arrival of autumn. This is a good opportunity for the seeds to settle and grow. Although growth is not expected during the winter, the seeds will grow well once spring starts.
Fescue grasses such as Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue and Creeping Red Fescue can handle the cold weather well and are therefore good options for seeding in winter. Unlike other types of cool-weather grasses, Fescue grass can also survive in hot weather, making it a versatile perennial choice. Bermuda grass has similar characteristics and is a good substitute.
Use Weed Chemicals for Winter
Proper Georgia lawn care in winter includes the use of weed chemicals. These chemicals will kill the weeds. Weeds steal nutrients from the lawn greenery and it is essential that they die out so that the plants, trees and flowers would grow up robustly. Regular mowing should also be done since winter weeds are not able to survive repeated mowings.
In his website walterreeves.com, Walter Reeves recommends the regular use of pre-emergent weed killers to prevent germination and rooting. These pre-emergent weed killers should be used in mid-October and watered into the soil to maximize their effectiveness.
For weeds that are already growing, manual work is needed. One can use shovels to uproot the growing weeds. Clearing one area at a time is advisable, so as not to spread weed seeds from areas full of weeds to weed-free areas.
It is important to exercise proper caution in using weed chemicals because they have different adverse effects. For instance, they may cause allergic reactions in outdoor pets. Rain may wash them into outdoor water reservoirs or into the neighbor’s lawn. Purchasing environment-friendly weed chemicals can help minimize the risk of these events.
Winterize the Sprinklers
Winterizing the sprinkler system is an important step of lawn care winter. Cold fronts can cause water residues to freeze. These frozen residues can lead to cracking and irreparable damage to the sprinkler systems.
Therefore, one should make sure that the sprinkler system is properly drained. In the “manual” method, the water supply is turned off first. The manual drain valve and the test cocks found on the backflow instrument are then opened to drain the water. Finally, the manual valves are closed to avoid the persistence of water residues.
In the “automatic” method, the water supply is shut off and the broiler drain is opened to drain the water. Similar to the last steps in the manual method, the test cocks should be opened and the valves should be closed to prevent water from flowing back into the sprinkler.
Winterize the Garden Tools
Making sure that garden tools are properly cleaned and stored for winter is an important step in winter lawn maintenance. The tools should be cleaned, rinsed off and thoroughly dried before being stored.
Dull ones should be sharpened using files or whetstones. Rusted ones should be sanded off using steel wool or fine sandpaper. Vegetable oil should be applied to metallic tools to prevent rust formation. Linseed oil or past wax should be applied thinly on wooden tools or handles to prevent splitting and/or cracking.
A clean, dry place is ideal for storing garden tools. To minimize water damage, the garden tools can be placed in a bucket of sand and oil.
For the mower, regular cleaning and sharpening is needed. There should be a specialized storage for the mower’s gasoline to prevent any fire mishaps.
Protect the Trees and Shrubs
Rabbits can destroy the greenery. To protect the trees and shrubbery from rabbits, one could wrap them in foil or guard paper from their bases to 30 inches or more above the ground. Small shrubs or delicate plants can be protected with chicken wire cages.
Pine trees and evergreen trees should be watered a number of times before the arrival of winter. This can help prevent desiccation during the cold winter months.
New plant grafts can be protected by shielding them with compost mounds or wrapping them in leaf-filled burlaps. Makeshift poles and burlap shelters are also effective for delicate shrubs.
Successful lawn winter care requires a number of steps.
By following the aforementioned winter lawn tips, one can be assured of a beautiful and lively lawn and garden when spring arrives.