Preparing Your Lawn For Winter in Minneapolis
When the last leaf falls, it is time to start thinking about preparing your yard for the winter. When you correctly get your yard for winter weather, it will help to keep it healthy all year round. Whether you have mild winters or blistery, below zero winters, taking the necessary in the fall will not only prepare your lawn for the cooler weather, but for the following spring as well. Here are some winter preparation tips to help you prepare your lawn this fall.
Rake the Leaves
Raking the leaves is one of the most important things to do when preparing your lawn for the winter. When leaves are left on the ground, they smother the grass, which will cause dead grass and dirt patches next spring. When raking the leaves, save some of them to put in the flowerbeds to help prevent early growth of weeds in the spring. Along with raking, you should also clean up the yard. Pick fruit up off of the ground and cut back perennials. This will help give your garden and yard a cleaner look and it may help to reduce the risk of pests wintering in the debris.
Don’t Forget About the Garden
Remove annuals that won’t make it through next spring, but leave the roots, so they can decompose and provide nutrients for the soil. Clean all plant debris from the flower beds to prevent mold and mildew. Pull the leftover weeds. Fall is the perfect time to plant your spring-blooming flower bulbs, trees and shrubs. The excess moisture during the fall and winter months will help new plants get the nutrients they need to resume growth next spring.
Mow the Grass
If you live in an area where it starts to get cold after September, but the grass is still growing, it is recommended that you mow the grass twice in October and once in November. On the last mow, cut the grass short, especially in moist/wet climates. This will allow the moisture to seep into the ground and prevent the grass from dying at the beginning of next spring. Although you shouldn’t leave large piles of grass on the lawn, if you leave a moderate build-up it will help to hold the moisture in the ground during the winter.
Late fall, typically one month before it usually freezes is the optimum time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizing in the fall will help strengthen the turf for the winter and provide the nutrients it needs to be healthy next spring. Make sure to use the type of fertilization that is right for your region and the type of grass you have. If you aren’t sure about what type of fertilizer to use, it may be best to have a local landscaper do the fertilizing for you.
Reseed the Lawn
If there are bare spots in the lawn, fall is the perfect time to reseed. To ensure you have a lush lawn in the spring; first aerate the turf to make sure the seeds have sufficient room to root, spread a nutrient enriched compost and work the compost into the ground. Use a seeder to evenly spread the grass seed, cover the seed lightly with straw to prevent birds from dining on it and keep the seed watered until the grass is well established. Avoid mowing the grass until the new growth is about 2 to 3 inches in height.
Herbicides and Pesticides
The primary weeds you will need to worry about are perennial weeds, such as ground ivy and dandelions. To reduce growth next spring, spot treat with a broadleaf herbicide and avoid the use of weed killers that are intended for use only after the weeds have sprouted. If you use a pesticide, make sure that it is safe for lawns that will experience a freeze. The best way to use pesticides in the fall is by spraying around the perimeter of your house. This will help to reduce the pests that will migrate into the lawn.
Protecting Trees and Shrubs
Use paper tree wrap to help protect thin-barked trees from sunscald during the winter. Sunscald occurs when warmed sap is quickly frozen during the night, which causes the tree bark to split. Beds that have shrubs and/or flowers should have a protective layer of mulch put down before the first freeze. The mulch will help keep the soil at an even temperature and prevent the soil from heaving and forcing plants out of the ground.
After all of the winter preparations are completed for the lawn and the garden, turn off the lawn sprinklers, drain the sprinkler lines and turn the outside water off at the main line. Clean and sharpen the garden tools before storing them for the winter and remember to wipe down and store your outdoor furniture.