How to Winterize your Lawn and Garden
There’s nothing more aggravating than walking outside in the morning to a winter wonderland of a frozen icicle-scape because you forgot to turn off the irrigation. And that doesn’t even compare to the mess that a frozen and burst pipe can cause! Before the weather gets any colder, make plans to winterize your lawn and garden.
Blow out the irrigation system
In warmer climates (Florida, Texas, and California) you can skip this step. Everyone else needs to think about draining their irrigation system for the winter. Don’t forget to turn off, and even unplug your timers to avoid any accidental stress on the system.
Rake and compost leaves
If you leave fall leaves on the grass, they will mat together and create problems for the lawn. Wet + cold conditions equal fungus growth. Additionally, burrowing critters will find leaf piles to be a perfectly welcoming place to spend the winter: not what you want.
Winterize the lawn mower
Part of good lawn care is taking care of your equipment. If you let your mower sit all winter with the same gas and oil, not to mention all of the dirt and grease from summer mowing, it won’t be in any shape to work in the spring. Move the mower to a hard surface so that fluids don’t leak on and kill the grass. Start by disconnecting the spark plugs before doing any work on the undercarriage. This will prevent the mower from starting and slicing off your hands! Drain the gasoline and oil out of the mower. Then use a damp rag to clean the blades, undercarriage, and top of the mower. Finish by adding a new bottle of oil and gasoline with engine stabilizer. The mower will be ready to flush and get toing in the winter!
To help the lawn stay healthy through the winter, fertilize with a slow-release nitrogen product at least four weeks before the first frost. You don’t need any quick-release nitrogen, as that will encourage rapid, fresh growth, when you really want the lawn to start slowing down for the season.
Lower the mower blades to be about 1/3 lower than normal. Mow until the grass stops actively growing. By keeping the grass blades short, you lessen the chance of the grass lying down, creating a mat, and harboring bacterial and fungal diseases over the winter.
Mark the driveway
Lastly, if you live in an area with snow, mark the driveway with stakes. That way, when you plow, you won’t plow up the lawn. You won’t drive over it either!
A bit of preparation now will go a long way toward welcoming a healthy lawn after the winter.