Time to put the lawn to rest for the winter
Leaves smothering a lawn
What a great fall it has been. Now is the time to prepare the lawn for the long winter months. Important practices are fertilization, weed control, leaf removal and proper mowing.
Mid-November is an excellent time to apply a high source of nitrogen fertilizer to bluegrass and tall fescue lawns. This application is quickly converted to stored food and energy for next spring’s growth. Come spring the grass will green up early without unnecessary top growth. Look for fertilizers often called winterizers that contain a mix of nutrients similar to 27-3-3 or 30-0-0.
Many weeds such as henbit, chickweed, and dandelion sprout in the cool days of fall. These small establishing weeds are very easy to control with most broadleaf herbicides. Spraying in the cool of the fall results in less damage to other landscape plants because these chemicals tend to drift on warm, windy spring days. We normally think to treat these weed problems when flowering in the spring. Control is less effective, so treat now and relax come spring.
Most of the leaves have dropped from the trees. A few are still clinging to branches. A thick layer of leaves covering the grass will weaken or kill the lawn over the winter months. Raking and removing leaves is a task dreaded by most, but a fact of life for a healthy lawn. Either rake the fallen leaves or collect them in the bagging attachment. A few leaves will not hurt the lawn. So do not obsess about it too much, as more will collect over the winter.
Lastly, proper mowing is important for a nice lawn. The lawn should remain at the same height as it currently is being mowed. Do not lower the blade to pick up debris as this may increase winter injury of the turf. The proper height for bluegrass and tall fescue is somewhere between 2 and 3 inches. Here’s a tip for next spring; do not scalp the turf. Many people drop the mower blade in the early spring to remove dead grass blades. This opens the lawn up for sunlight penetration, which increases weed seed germination. In the spring only drop the mower height one notch and let nature do the rest. So take advantage of these last pleasant days of autumn. Your lawn will respond come spring and make the extra work worth the effort.