It’s getting to be that time of year again. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, we don’t see the kind of harsh winters that other areas of the country experience, and we’re all thankful for that. Still, weather patterns do change, and as we move into the cold season, there are some steps that you’ll want to take towards prepping your lawn for winter. Proper preparations now will help ensure that your lawn will be in good shape come next spring.
Rake up those leaves
If there’s only one thing that you do to prep for winter, it would be raking your leaves. Your lawn will be best prepared for the winter if it starts with a clean slate, free of any autumn debris. Leaves left to rot on the lawn will smother your grass, and you’ll have a nice patch of dirt next spring instead of a lawn. After you’ve completed this, we do recommend that you mulch those leaves to return all those valuable nutrients back into the soil.
Aeration means perforating your lawn with small holes. This reduces compaction of the soil, and it also makes it easier for the soil to absorb fertilizer and water.
Compost and fertilize
After you’ve prepped your lawn by clearing debris and aerating, it’s time to get some nutrients back into the soil so you’re ready for new growth after the winter. Your lawn has been gobbling up all the nutrients all summer, and it’s time to replenish them. Compost is an inexpensive and very effective way to accomplish this. It’s rich in minerals as well as helpful microbes, and will both enrich the soil and make it somewhat more drought resistant.
There are some additional precautions you’ll want to take to prepare for the colder season as well:
Bring in potted plants - I know you love them, and some may even be rare and valuable. Get them indoors and away from any risk of frost exposure.
Turn of sprinklers and drain the lines - You won’t be running the sprinklers if the temperature drops below freezing, or you’ll end up with a sheet of ice covering your lawn, so turn them off before the temperatures drop. And be sure to drain all the water out of the lines before there’s any danger of a hard freeze to avoid having the lines crack as the water freezes and expands.
Your lawnmower deserves to be prepped for winter too - Manufacturers of lawnmowers and other power tools recommend that they not be stored for winter with gasoline in the tanks. You can drain the gas out before the winter, but that’s a pretty messy proposition. The easiest way to accomplish this is to only put enough gas for the final mowing in the tank, and run the engine until the tank is empty.
If you’re uncertain as to the best steps to take to prep your lawn for winter, your best bet is to contact a professional gardener who has done this countless times before.