Austinites know winter can be just as hard on lawns as those hot, dry summer months. Winter lawn care in Austin, TX, involves more than just a few sprinkles of water here and there.
In reality, it takes some extra effort and preparation to ensure that your lawn is robust and healthy when spring finally rolls back around. Since winter can be a tricky season for lawns in the Lone Star state, here are a few helpful winter lawn care tips specifically tailored to Austin.
Winterize Your Lawn
Just before the onset of winter, you should prepare your lawn for hibernation. Winterizing means preparing a lawn for the cold weather ahead, and while Austin winters can be a bit unpredictable temperature-wise, it’s best to give your grass enough tender loving care to see it through the months ahead.
The best time to winterize your lawn is in late October or early November when the temperatures are still comfortably warm and before the real cold season hits. Here are simple steps you can take to winterize your lawn:
- Getting Rid of Leaves
Mowing Your Lawn in Winter
Lawn mowing is one of the most important tasks before the winter months set in. Generally, the ideal winter height for grass is about 2 ½ inches (3 inches for cool-season grasses).
It’s essential to leave a bit of length on the grass so your lawn isn’t stressed out and prone to over-fertilization, which can lead to burning. Use a higher setting on your mower than you would normally use in summer when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. When your grass goes dormant and stops growing altogether in late fall or early winter, stop mowing until spring.
When winter rolls around, your lawn needs to be fed in order to stay healthy and strong. Applying a high-phosphorus winter fertilizer helps to strengthen and rejuvenate your lawn during cold weather.
Typically, Austinites should look to apply fertilizer twice yearly. In the spring, it’s best to opt for a low-nitrogen fertilizer, while in December, before the expected first frost arrives, you can apply fertilizer with higher nitrogen content.
Getting Rid of Leaves
Falling leaves are both a blessing and a curse for lawns. While they can make your lawn look spectacular in the fall, they must be tucked away when winter rolls around.
Too many leaves on your lawn can damage the grass during its dormant stages due to blocking sunlight. Additionally, damp leaves can encourage the growth of mold, bacteria, pests, and weeds.
By diligently raking away leaves and debris, you can avoid dead spots appearing in your lawn and problems caused by lawn diseases.
Vary Your Water Routine
For most Texans, winter is a time for lower water usage, as drought conditions can impose severe restrictions. Of course, watering your lawn is still essential during winter months. If it’s been a few weeks without rain, feel free to give your lawn a light drink.
It is best to water your lawn in the morning when temperatures are cooler, and less water is lost to evaporation. Deep and slow watering encourages the growth of a deep and strong root system, which is essential for a lawn to survive a harsh winter.
*Note: Check Austin’s local watering schedule for current restrictions.
Watch For Weeds
Winter is a peak time for weed growth. This is especially true for Texas yards, as homeowners can find their lawns overgrown with weeds in no time. When it comes to winter weed control, the answer is a sharp blade.
Mowing your lawn at a regular interval (though not as often as in summer) removes the upper shoots of weeds and stems before they can spread.
Austintexas.gov recommends that you hand-pull annual weeds like chickweed and dandelion, but if you have perennial weeds, like quackgrass or crabgrass, they may require a more dedicated approach, such as applying a pre-emergent herbicide or digging them up, roots and all.
Clean Up Your Yard
After the leaves have fallen, keeping your lawn free of debris is essential. This might seem like a laborious task, but raking up the leaves is necessary for a lush, green lawn. Leaves can be disastrous for your grass: if there are too many, they can suffocate the lawn, making it vulnerable to disease.
Additionally, you should remove any other objects from your lawn that have the potential to damage it, like toys and other items left outside throughout the winter season.
Think Before You Step
There’s nothing worse than a large footprint on your lawn after a hard freeze. To avoid this, try to limit foot and vehicle traffic on your lawn as much as possible during winter. Even on warm winter days, traffic can lead to soil compaction, which can do irreparable damage.
Soil compaction occurs when the soil particles in your lawn are pressed and squeezed together, which then leads to poor drainage and nutrient absorption, eventually causing plant death.
Lawn Care Service Prices
When it comes time to take care of your yard while the temperatures drop, there is no shame in turning to an Austin lawn care expert. From aeration and fertilizer applications to weed management, professional lawn care companies have the gear and knowledge to take care of your lawn during this tricky time of year.
Lawn care costs can vary depending on the size of your lawn, preferred services, and current tools or equipment. However, in Austin, TX, lawn care prices range from $130 to $250 on average. For more information on the winter lawn care services available near you, contact an experienced and reputable provider in Austin.
Here are some examples of lawn care services in Austin and their prices:
- Mowing services can help clear away any fallen leaves and overgrown grass for a tidy and uniform look. On average, professional mowing costs around $50 per service in Austin.
- Mulch is an ideal option for retaining soil moisture and preventing weeds during winter. On average, mulching costs about $65 per cubic yard in Austin, including materials and labor.
- Aeration helps ensure that grass is getting the necessary oxygen, water, and nutrients it needs during winter to survive. On average, aeration costs range from around $45 to $120 for the Austin area.
Ideally, Central Texas homeowners should winterize their lawns in late October or November. This includes basic activities such as mowing, fertilizing, and leaf removal.
Applying a high-phosphorus winter fertilizer to your lawn in December is essential to strengthen and rejuvenate the grass. This also helps to prevent winter kill or the loss of plants during the colder months.
Other than regularly mowing, aerating, and adding fertilizer, you should limit traffic on your lawn as much as possible. This will help you avoid soil compaction and ensure you have a healthy lawn all year round.
Experts generally agree that it is a good idea to water your lawn lightly during the winter if there is no rain for over a week. This helps to maintain soil health and deep root growth.
Winter is a tough time for lawns, but with proper care and maintenance, Austinites can easily embrace the season and prepare their lawns for the return of spring.
In places like Austin, lawn care services are readily available to keep your lawn looking its best. If you don’t have the time to care for your lawn yourself, contact an Austin lawn care company. With the proper care and maintenance, Texas lawns can look their best year-round despite the sometimes harsh winter conditions.
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