What should I do to get my lawn ready for Winter. I get this question a lot from homeowners and by my neighbors.
The topics for consideration of general lawn care include fertilization, turf height, removal of leaves, weed control, aeration, and soil testing.
As of this week, we are approaching Thanksgiving and some fall lawn care has probably already passed since most lawns have endured several heavy frosts.
When lawns are actively growing in September and into October, weed control can be very effective.
I applied herbicides in late October to my turf with great results.
Further south (Cincinnati) herbicides are somewhat still viable but in northern Ohio, we are probably done.
What about fall fertilizers. Couple of things – once soils are frozen – nitrogen and granular applications will have limited use. Fertilization in late November is not recommended. We would not recommend slow-release Nitrogen fertilizer anymore – it won’t break down and be taken up in time and then becomes environmental issue – quick release more beneficial so that it gets taken up and used. But because many lawns are approaching dormancy, it’s probably too late to apply.
The question I get is what is a “fall fertilizer” anyway.
Most will have slow-release nitrogen formulation
as opposed to quick release nitrogen.
These are typically applied to actively growing lawns.
What about Phosphorus? Some fertilizer has it, some don’t. How do you know if you need Phosphorus?
Soil testing! Soil testing is recommended in fall or spring.
Two labs that do soil testing are:
Results will indicate whether pH needs to be adjusted and what fertilizer should be applied.
If the soil test indicates a lack of Phosphorus. Then, you look for a product that contains Phosphorus!
But its November, so what can you still control?
Height of your lawn. You last mowing of your lawn should be shorter than summer mowing heights. It is recommended in summer that you mow 3 to 3 ½ inches.
As we approach winter, mowing should be at a height of 2 to 2 ½ inches, especially if your lawn has a history of snow mold.
But don’t scalp your lawn. You may have to drop the blade a ½ inch at each mowing. Remember, your blade may be higher than the lip of your mowing deck.
What about leaves?
If heavy leaf cover is there (greater than 2”) then it is recommended removal or at least heavy mulching (repeated efforts) otherwise they will rot on top of canopy.
If snow mold has been a problem Pillar G is a product that homeowners can apply or propiconazole is a liquid hose application product that should help with the issue.
Frost. If there is frost on the lawn, you want to avoid walking across or driving equipment on the frosted turf as it can cause damage to the grass blades and leave footprints or tracks.
A good video featuring a turf team member is attached:
Turfgrass Times recording is attached below:
So, the two most important steps you can take now is remove leaves and cut your turf short for fall/winter.