Winter is just around the corner, and your lawn preparation for the cold season must be underway. The winter season can be harsh on vegetation, especially in areas that receive a lot of snowfall, like Oakville.
As there is less moisture available for the grass to survive, the environmental conditions prevent growth as well. However, there are several things you can do to ensure that your lawn comes out bright and healthy when spring arrives.
In parallel to preparing your lawn for the winter season, there are several other tips, tricks, and handy knowledge titbits you can consider to ensure your lawn survives.
The Life of Your Lawn during Winters
As winter sets in, the conditions for healthy grass growth become harsher and more challenging. A temperature drop below 8 degrees Celsius causes a severe slowdown in grass growth. As the weather gets colder towards December and January, grass growth slows down further into dormancy.
Especially in the areas where there is a lot of snow in winter, there is less moisture available for the grass to thrive on. This causes yellowing of the lawn if prior preparation hasn’t been done or if you haven’t properly adjusted the irrigation schedules.
It is important to note that if you have planted grass seed, you would need to constantly plough snow away from your lawn and add winter fertilizer at least once. Adding winter fertilizer is important because it provides the lawn with essential nutrients that the grass requires to remain resilient and strong during the winter months.
You can either select an autumn fertilizer to add to the soil before December, or you can choose a slow-release fertilizer to add later. Let’s understand how winter fertilizers can help your grass survive the colder months.
Does Weed and Feed for Lawns Help Grass Survive Winters?
Winter season in Oakville brings a lot of snow with it. This essentially means that there will be a slew of winter diseases that you would need to prepare your lawn to fend off.
One such problem is snow mould.
Snow mould is a fungal disease that frequently occurs in unprepared lawns during the time that snow rests on top of the grass. Fungus grows on the lawn and wet leaves during the winter season, leaving visible damage on the lawn when the snow melts in the spring.
Using weed and feed for lawns for the winter can help you strengthen your grasses against such winter damage.
For example, you can add the specialized autumn weed and feed that acts on targeted weeds that sprout during the winter, like dandelion. Such fertilizers also simultaneously provide the necessary dose of nutrients to your grass, preventing any serious damage to it.
Fertilizing your lawn for the winter adds essential nutrients to the soil that the grass needs to survive through the weather. Some fertilizers are designed to make it efficient for the roots of the grass to absorb these nutrients, helping make it more resilient.
Additionally, the slow-release weeding agents ensure that there is enough availability of weedicide in the soil to act on sprouts all season long, ensuring that the nutrients from fertilizer stay available for the grass exclusively.
The best way to fertilize your lawn and protect it from winter diseases and weeds is to prepare it during the autumn by adding autumn weeds and feed. Your grass should be mowed low, and you should also consider plugging holes in the lawn to aerate it and for the nutrients to reach grass roots effectively.
How to Minimize Grass Damage during Winter?
If you wish to minimize lawn damage during the winter season, there are several things you need to do early in autumn:
- Ensure that you are mowing your lawn for the winter before the cold winds set in. This is because cold winters snatch moisture away from the grass and soil, making it more vulnerable to damage. Reduce the area of moisture loss from grass blades by mowing it during mid-autumn.
- Once the cold weather does set in, it is highly likely that there to be frost on the lawn. Avoid putting any kind of pressure on your grass as long as there is frost because this can damage the grass blades and reduce their likelihood of survival. Walking on your lawn while there is frost will also cause a disease called Frost Scorch and work to compact the soil and reduce air availability to the roots of the grass.
- If you are already seeing frost in the weather forecast, avoid sowing winter grass seeds. These seeds need a timeframe of at least four weeks to solidify their roots in your lawn and will be useless when planted in frosty conditions.
- Consider shovelling snow away from your lawn to protect it from snow diseases.
Selecting Grass Seed for Winters
Before you move on to selecting the best grass seed for winter, it is essential to understand if all the seeds will survive the winter. In most cases, it does – as long as you complete the sowing operations in late fall and it gets at least four frost-free weeks.
Seeding is a common practice people use to fix bare patches in their lawns before the winter sets in. However, it is important to know that if your grass is already dense and lush, the seed will not be able to settle into the soil to germinate and grow in the spring.
Another important thing to consider is weather fluctuations. If you see a warm spell after cold weather, the seeds may germinate but die again when the temperatures fall.
Let’s understand how you can pick the right grass for the winter.
There are two types of grasses:
- Warm-season grass
- Cool-season grass
Grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Perennial Ryegrass are the ones that germinate early in cold soils. That is why they are called cool-season grasses.
These grasses germinate faster than the seeds you sow for the spring. If you intend to thicken up your lawn before there is an opportunity for weeds to grow, select one of these grasses.
The most common types of warm-season grasses are Zoysia grass, Blue Grama, Bermuda grass, and Buffalo grass. These are the grasses that fare better in the warmer seasons.
These grasses will typically go dormant in the colder months, and the lawns would require extensive autumn preparation to survive through the winters.
If you are considering dormant seeding for your lawn, it is recommended that you complete it when the weather is cold enough to prevent germination of the grass seeds.
How to Choose Winter Fertilizer
Selecting a winter fertilizer depends on the conditions specific to your lawn. Typically, you would want to fertilize your lawn after you mow it down for the last time to prepare it for the winter.
This is when the grass blades are at their lowest, and the soil can soak up all the nutrients to store them for the winter.
A good quality winter fertilizer incorporates two essential things: nitrogen and potassium. The role of nitrogen is to help provide enough carbohydrates to your lawn to help it last the entire winter. Potassium is like a supplement that helps the grass fight winter-based diseases and stressors, like snow loads and mould.
Winter fertilizers are typically available in a ratio of 2:1-N:P, with two parts of nitrogen for every part of potassium. Quick-release formulas help the nutrients quickly seep into the soil.
To ensure that you are selecting the best fertilizer for your soil this winter, consider performing the following tests before buying one:
- Conduct a soil test before buying a winter fertilizer. Soil tests are an excellent way to highlight the nutrients your lawn lacks and buy a fertilizer that removes all deficits. Additionally, it even highlights if the nutrient levels are good enough to not require any fertilizer.
- Several fertilizers come with Phosphorous as an added nutrient to the NP fertilizers. Inspect the ingredients in your selected fertilizer and match the list with your soil test to see if phosphorous is required.
- Do not fertilize your lawn after November. The nutrients in the fertilizer require time to seep into the soil properly. If autumn is already over, they may not be of much help.
- Always consider using less fertilizer than recommended on the package labels. This helps you prevent overfertilization of your lawn.
Dependable Lawn – The Best Lawn Care in Oakville
Winter care for lawns is challenging. It can test your patience in so many ways. However, as long as you get your autumn preparations right and ensure that you take every step for grass health, your lawn should be okay.
You can consider contacting professional lawn care in Oakville, like Dependable Lawn, to help you out with lawn preservation. We can provide you with end-to-end lawn and landscaping services and help you get the knowledge and guidance you need to look after your greens. Contact Dependable Lawn today for a consultation.