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Winter lawn care tips for a better spring

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

The winter is when you spend the least amount of time thinking of your lawn.  You have put the lawn mower away and are ready for a few months of relaxation before you have to start the lawn maintenance routine again.  There are a few things you can do during even the harshest winter that can ensure a beautiful, lush yard once spring rolls around again.
Late fall or early winter are the best times to fertilize cool season grasses with phosphorous and potash.  Since the majority of the lawns in North America are made from these grasses, it is a good bet your yard has a typical cool season blend.  Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilizing to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during the hot summer months.  Once the weather turns cold, the fertilizer will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.  When spring comes your lawn will be full of healthy, lush, green grass that has been feeding on good fertilizer nutrients underneath the snow.

It is easy for items to be left on the lawn during the long, cold winter when no one goes outside very often.  Stray logs, toys, and even lawn furniture can be accidentally overlooked before the first snow comes.  Make sure that you clear the lawn of all objects after you mow it for the last time of the year.  Do an occasional sweep of the lawn every couple of weeks during the winter, as well.  If an object is left on the grass during cold weather and snowfall it can create large dead spots because of the weight of the object. In the spring the grass in that area will be stunted and thinner than the rest of the yard.

When the grass is brown and short it can be easy for people to forget that it shouldn’t be walked on.  Try to prevent very much foot traffic on your winter lawn.  Grass is relatively resilient, but it will have a difficult time recovering if a path becomes worn across the lawn.  Keep your sidewalks cleared of ice and snow so that you and your guests won’t be tempted to cut across the yard very often.

Never allow anyone to park a truck or a car on your lawn.  Even the smallest vehicle will leave impressions in the soil and kill off the grass that is underneath the tires.  Using the lawn as a parking lot is the fastest way to kill the good grass and make room for crabgrass and other types of weeds.

There really is not much lawn care that needs to be done during the cold months of winter.  If you properly prepare the lawn during the fall, it will be fine until the warm days of spring arrive once more.
·Make sure you aerate, fertilize, and mow the lawn before the first freeze of the season.

·Rake away any dead leaves that may have fallen and collected on your yard to avoid wet spots that can become mossy or moldy.

·Keep the lawn cleared of debris and help everyone in the family respect the yard while it is dormant.

Once you have taken care of everything that needs to be done during the fall, you will be ready to enjoy a nice cozy winter indoors with your family before lawn care season begins again in the spring.