Changing seasons can be tough on a lawn. Always exposed to the elements, lawns can fare especially poorly upon the arrival of winter, a season known for its harsh and unforgiving weather. Even the most perfectly manicured lawn can suffer at the hands of winter weather, causing homeowners to sit idly by and hope spring arrives that much sooner.
But as punishing as winter weather can be on a lawn, homeowners are not without recourse. Much like homeowners can take steps to help their lawns survive sizzling summer heat waves during the warmer months of the year, they also can take steps to help their lawns make it through the often stormy weather synonymous with winter.
* Don't procrastinate. Putting off the process of winterizing a lawn can put that lawn in jeopardy. Lawns will turn dormant the closer you get to winter, and they may reject the nutrients found in fertilizer as a result. Those nutrients will prove valuable once spring weather returns, so start the winterization process in early fall so the lawn has sufficient time to absorb nutrients and strengthen itself for the seasons to come.
* Treat trouble spots. Summer can be even harder on a lawn than winter, especially for those lawns located in regions where heat waves and drought are common. In such instances, certain spots on the lawn seem to be hit harder than others, and those spots should get special attention when winterizing the lawn. Check the soil's pH levels before fertilizing or applying any treatments. Such a test will reveal which spots need the most attention, and treating trouble spots now will make spring lawn care that much easier.
* Aerate the property. Aerating can help a lawn recover after a long summer and help it survive the potentially harsh months that lie ahead. Aerating, which involves puncturing the soil or removing cores of soil from the ground, can restore a lawn to health by improving its drainage and allowing more water and air to reach the roots of the grass. Aerating also makes it easier for nutrients to penetrate the soil, which encourages a healthier lawn over the long haul. Aerators can be purchased or rented, but homeowners uncomfortable with the process may want to enlist a professional to tackle the job. Parents of small children who spend lots of time in the yard may need to aerate their lawn more than most, as heavy lawn traffic compresses the soil, a potentially harmful process that can be reversed via aeration.
* Take steps to strengthen the roots. Aerating promotes stronger roots, but homeowners might also want to find a winterizing product with potassium and phosphorous, both of which can strengthen roots. Different types of lawns will respond differently to certain winterizers, so discuss your options with a lawn care professional who can help you find the right fit for your property.
* Remove debris from the lawn. Debris left on a lawn over the winter can prove very harmful. Piles of debris left scattered around a lawn can suffocate the blades of grass, leading to long-term damage and a potentially unsightly lawn come the spring. In addition, piles of debris might make good homes for organisms that can damage the lawn. As fall moves into winter, periodically remove all debris, including leaves and branches fallen from trees.
* Make the lawn off-limits once the temperatures dip below freezing. A lawn should be off-limits once the ground freezes. Stepping on grass that has frozen will leave noticeable footprints, and walking on frozen grass can kill the turf. When winter arrives, people should avoid using the lawn as a shortcut into and out of your home and stick to driveways and sidewalks instead.