Most people don’t spend much time thinking about winter lawn care. In Chattanooga, however, where mild temperatures and minimal snowfall often accompany winters, you need to think about lawn care throughout every season–not just the summer.
Luckily, lawn care is a more straightforward task at this time of the year, requiring far less mowing and overall maintenance. However, just because your to-do list may have lightened, it doesn't mean you can avoid your lawn’s needs altogether. Here are some tips for maximizing your short winter hours so that you can help your lawn weather whatever conditions winter might throw at it.
Winter is a great time to conduct a soil test because you likely have fewer lawn maintenance tasks on your plate and will have more time to tackle this. Your soil might be lacking in essential nutrients, like potassium, nitrogen, or even magnesium. You can test your nutrients and soil type in the winter to figure out its composition. A soil test should be done every three to five years and is a great way to determine whether you need to fertilize, aerate, or perform another kind of lawn care task.
Cleaning up is a task that should be performed periodically throughout the winter months. Cleaning up any debris or junk on your lawn is essential, mainly because damaged or diseased vegetation can make the rest of your plants (including your grass) sick. Dead limbs can also be a safety hazard and can crush growing grass blades.
Periodically, peruse your lawn and make sure there isn’t anything sitting on top of your grass that shouldn’t be there. Don’t allow lawn furniture, accessories, or tools to remain in one place for too long, as this can damage sensitive grass blades and create dead spots on your lawn. The same goes for driving across your yard–no foot or vehicle traffic whenever possible.
Since you’ve already tested your soil nutrient content, you should know by now whether your lawn needs any fertilizer. Use an organic fertilizer with balanced nutrients, like aged compost, or add a nutrient-specific fertilizer. You can add a nitrogen-only fertilizer or one targeting another specific nutrient.
While cool season grasses need to be fertilized in the fall, winter is an excellent time to fertilize if you are using phosphorus and potash. Try to mulch before the first solid freeze, as this will allow the fertilizer to linger in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots throughout the winter months. If you are growing any warm season grasses, like Zoysiagrass or Bermudagrass, you can fertilize well into the winter months.
Overseeding isn’t a mandatory item on your to-do list, but you may want to consider it if you are experiencing a mild winter and have some bald patches on your lawn. Regardless of your current grass type, overseeding can be a good idea because it will help your lawn weather any temperatures.
Make sure you get rid of any dead leaves that may have fallen on your lawn. While leaves are a great source of nutrients, large pieces can become moldy and develop an unpleasant stench. Many people also have allergies to these growths. Therefore, you should always rake, bag, or compost your fallen leaves. If you wish to use them as a natural fertilizer, you should use a mulching mower to chop them into smaller pieces. Mulching them will prevent mold or moss from developing and making you sick.
In Chattanooga, we aren’t strangers to light or even not-so-light frost. Before this first frost hits, make sure your lawn is trimmed and healthy. Too-long lawns can become a home for overwintering rodents and other pests, which can damage the health of your lawn. Watch the weather calendar and mow short just before the first expected frost, as well as during regular intervals long before this. It will help your grass adapt to its new height and to the colder conditions to come.
If you're in Chattanooga this winter season, learn how Chattanooga Lawn Care can service your lawn!
Photo Source: Zillow