Yes, fall just arrived. But in New Jersey, it could snow by the middle of October. Now is the time to prepare your lawn for the cold, snowy season the Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter.
Complete the following 8 steps to keep your lawn healthy during winter and set yourself up for a beautiful yard in the spring.
Aerate Your Lawn
It’s time to let your lawn breathe. Fall is the perfect time to aerate. Aeration works best on moist soil. The tines penetrate deeper into the ground, allowing water, air, and crucial nutrients to rich the root system.
There is a wide variety of manual and gas-powered tools available. If budget permits, the gas-powered aerating machines get the job much quicker… and save you from sore hands and backaches.
Test Your Soil
Performing a soil test before you fertilize your lawn lets you pick the best nutrient treatment to apply before Winter sets in. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kits are available at garden and hardware stores.
While nothing replaces professional soil tests, the DIY kits test pH and basic nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, kits do not indicate how much soil amendment to add to achieve desired pH or nutrient levels.
It’s best to fertilize your lawn before the first frost. Fall fertilization protects grass during the cold, wet winter months and allows your grass to store vital nutrients in its root system during the cold weather. When the soil becomes warm in the spring, nutrients are released and promote spring growth.
Seed Thin or Bare Areas
Late summer into early fall is the prime time to plant cool-season grasses. If you haven’t already seeded, the window is closing rapidly. The best time to seed is when the temperatures are cooler at night but warm throughout the day. During late summer and early fall, dew is more prevalent and helps the new seed take root and sprout. If you miss fall seeding, plan to seed in early spring.
As you prep your lawn for winter, don’t forget about your planting areas. Adding a healthy layer of mulch to your plant beds helps protect the soil and plant roots from fluctuating temperatures. Good mulching improves moisture retention in the soil and minimizes evaporation. Mulch also deters weed growth, preserves soil nutrients, and reduces soil erosion. Mulch looks nice during the drab Winter months too.
The proper grass length is essential during the winter. Too short, and you will damage your lawn and have brown or bare spots in the spring. Cool moisture gets trapped beneath the longer blades if your grass is too long during winter, leading to winter fungal diseases. The best height for your final mow of the season is one notch lower than your routine fall mowing.
Stake Your Lawn
Many people forget this step in the lawn winterizing process. Placing stakes that identify your lawn’s boundaries and show where your yard meets roadways, sidewalks, and other permanent objects will prevent snow plow operators and other drivers from hitting objects covered by snow. Markers are also helpful along pathways, steps, and decks that could be tripped over or hit during on-property snow removal.
Winterize Lawn Irrigation System
Winterizing your lawn’s irrigation system might be the most critical step. Failing to winterize your irrigation system properly leads to significant and potentially expensive problems. Water left in the system expands. If there is too much expansion in valves, pipes, or sprinkler heads, they can burst and destroy your system.
There are three methods to winterize your system:
- Manual drain
- Automatic drain
- Compressed air blowout
Compressed air is the most effective method of removing all of the water from your irrigation system.
You should complete the system winterization well before the season’s first hard freeze. With crazy New Jersey weather, the timing can be a bit tricky. Keep an eye on extended forecasts in your area, and make sure you stay ahead of the first frost.
Call A Professional
At Tanzer Inc, we’ve provided New Jersey residents with our trusted and expert service since 1982, earning us the title of New Jersey’s “Irrigation King.” Contact Greg Tanzer Sprinkler today for a free estimate on getting your lawn and irrigation system ready for winter.