Get Ready for Winter
Fall is in full swing and winter is just around the corner. While we’re all focused on preparations for the holidays, be sure you don’t forget to take care of your lawn. Fall is the best time for certain landscaping projects to be completed. There are also a few things you need to do before the snow falls if you want your lawn to be healthy in the spring time. We spoke with Cache Valley Lawn King to learn about this.
Here are the things you must do to keep your lawn healthy in spring.
1. Grading and Prep
Grading and prep are absolutely essential if you want your lawn to be healthy in the spring.
The first thing is grading. Grading is making sure your lawn is ready to handle water build-up. It involves managing the slope of your yard, placing pipes and drainage traps to keep water from pooling anywhere in your hard. If it pools up, it can drown the grass. While that might not be a problem in the summer, the snow builds up a lot of moisture. If your yard isn’t properly graded, the melting snow will flood your lawn – and possibly your house – in the spring.
You also need to prep your lawn. This involves several steps. First, you want to keep mowing your lawn until the snow falls, even if it doesn’t look like it’s growing. Short grass requires less sunlight, so it helps keep the grass healthy as it gets darker.
Secondly, you need to aerate. Aeration puts oxygen into the soil and helps decompact it so it will be easier for the grass to survive the winter cold and the weight of the snow.
Thirdly, overseed and fertilize your lawn. This will help your lawn recover any dead spots that cropped up during the warmer months. The fertilizer also gives your lawn an extra boost of nutrients to see it through its dormancy.
Finally, rake up the leaves. Leaves cause a lot of problems for your lawn. They decompose, causing a heat build-up that can kill the grass. They add weight to the lawn and smother it. They attract fungus and other pests which will cause dead patches in the spring. You need to get rid of them before the snow falls to avoid these problems.
2. Tree and Bush Removal
Fall and Winter are the best time for tree and bush removal for a number of reasons. For starters, during the cold weather, the ground hardens, so the weight of fallen limbs and heavy equipment will do less damage to the soil. If you have any diseased trees – usually caused by insects or fungus – the diseases go dormant in the winter, so removing them then doesn’t have much risk of spreading the disease. After the leaves have falling, cutting down trees and shrubs isn’t going to make nearly as much of a mess for you to clean up after you’ve done it. And since the fragile plants have all gone dormant or died off for the winter, you won’t have to worry about damaging them when the trees fall.
All these make winter the ideal time to remove trees.
Winter is a surprisingly good time to do pruning as well and for many of the same reasons why you’d remove trees and shrubs in the winter. In addition to those reasons, there are a few more I can add.
For starters, you can see the structure of the tree in the winter. While the tree is in full leaf, it can be hard to spot where the branches are scraping against each other, but once they’ve dropped their leaves, it’s very clear where to go.
When the tree is dormant, pruning causes less stress on it. This also makes it the optimal time for “hard pruning,” where remove as much as 30% of the tree’s branches to allow more air sunlight to get through it.
Be careful you don’t start too early on this, though. If you prune too early in the winter, earlier than January in Box Elder county and most of Utah, it can encourage the tree to start growing again, which will weaken it. You can’t pin down a specific calendar date for when it’s good to do this, though. You have to watch the weather to see when it’s appropriate. It’s best to wait until you’re sure it’s not going to get warm again before doing any hard pruning.
Strong in the Spring
These landscaping to-dos are key to getting your lawn ready to survive the winter. If you do them at the right time, it will help your lawn grow back strong after it starts to warm up. Your lawn and plants come out of their dormancy and be stimulated to start new growth right away. This gives you more time to get your lawn strong and beautiful before the summer hits. Make sure you don’t skip out on these steps. Otherwise, you’ll have more work to do when spring comes. A little prep now will save you a lot of work later.