Most homeowners don't think about winterizing their lawn until late fall. But in reality, preparing your lawn for winter is a process that takes time. In central Indiana, preparing your lawn for winter starts as early as mid-August with the recovery process and can last until early December for root building. Here is the breakdown for a proper lawn winterization.
Fertilize to help your lawn recover from the heat and drought stress from the past summer months. Nitrogen will stimulate growth and repair damaged areas in the lawn for faster recovery.
Core aeration is the process of pulling cores of soil called plugs. The plugs are then dropped back down on the ground and over time, will break down returning nutrients to the soil. High temperatures and lack of precipitation increase soil compactions, preventing the lawn's root system from properly absorbing nutrients. The small holes created by the core aerator allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the ground to the grassroots. This promotes a stronger and deeper root system that is better equipped to withstand the stresses that Indiana winters can bring.
Fall is the best time to seed your lawn. Heat and drought stress can cause good grasses to thin out and pave the way for weeds to take over. Fertilizer alone will not fill in bare or thin areas in the lawn. You will need to seed to fill in these areas. The optimal time to start seeding is mid-August through mid-October. However, a dormant seeding can be just as beneficial.
During the fall grass growth starts to slow down. This is because the roots stay productive at cooler temperatures than the grass blades. Fertilizing the lawn as the blade growth slows down, provides enough nutrients to the blades to stay green longer increasing chlorophyll. Increased chlorophyll leads to increased photosynthesis, which in turn increases sugar production. At this time of the year, the roots will start storing the sugars for winter, so sugar production is vital to the lawn's health.
There are many different opinions on how leaves on your lawn should be handled. Leaving whole leave on the lawn over the winter is a big no-no. Leaving whole leaves on a lawn over winter can not only smother your grass, but harbor insects and promote lawn diseases. While raking and bagging leaves won't harm your lawn it does take away nutrients that leave can provide the soil. Mulching, on the other hand, chops leaves so they can break down easily, providing free food for your lawn! So, not only is mulching leaves easier on you but, it's better for the environment and for your lawn. Research by Michigan State University shows that mulched leaves have been associated with the reduction of the dandelion population in lawns. This sounds like a win-win-win to me!
Don't lower your mower; continue mowing at 3.5-4 inches until the grass stops growing. In central Indiana, grass growth can continue into early November.
One last fertilization in late fall is very beneficial to the lawn. Fertilizing at this time will build root density and allow your lawn to green up quicker in spring.
It's not too late to get started on lawn winterization. Lawn Pride is here to help. We specialize in Central Indiana care. Our experts know what lawns need to look their best and stay strong all winter long.
Indianapolis, on the northside (Fishers, Carmel, Westfield, Zionsville, and Noblesville), Westside (Avon, Plainfield, or Brownsburg), the eastside (Greenfield), or on the southside (Greenwood) – click the link to get your free lawn care estimate today!