A successful, green lawn usually starts in the fall and winter months, getting ahead of weeds and getting the right mix of nutrients in the soul. Starting in November, reduce your mower height about a half inch to an inch shorter than you normally do. Be sure to bag any clippings to reduce the amount of weed seeds that get left behind. Getting all the thatch picked up will help it stay healthier during the cold winter months. When spring returns, you will be rewarded with less weeds and a healthier lawn right from the start.
In the fall use a lower nitrogen slow release fertilizer to give nutrients during the winter months. A winter fertilizer will put potassium back into the soil, making it more resistant and healthy during the dormant winter months. It is important to get it fertilized before it stops growing in mid to late November, so make this a fall routine.
When spring returns, you want to start with a higher nitrogen mix. Aim to do your spring fertilizing in mid to late March. Then follow up with another application every 8 weeks or so (every two months). This will keep the nutrients in the soil, and keep your lawn extra healthy and green. Try to do any weed reducing mixes along with the fall/winter fertilizer or with the first round of fertilizer in the spring.
Over the course of a year, your lawns soil can get packed down pretty good. The more dense the soil is packed, the more difficult it is for water and nutrients to penetrate to the roots. Aerating a lawn is simply using a tool to create small holes in the soil to allow the much needed water and nutrients to get back down to the root systems. Grasses can’t survive long in compacted soil. If you notice your lawns soil becoming compacted, it is time to call someone to aerate. You can tell by taking something like a match or toothpick and pushing it into the soil. If it is difficult to push in, then you have compacted soil and should have it aerated to keep your lawn from thinning out and eventually dying.
Overseeding is an often overlooked lawn maintenance service. It is a good idea to over-seed your lawn at least every couple of years. Your lawn will begin to slow down in its reproduction. Lawns can get thinner over time, and over-seeding will keep new grasses growing which will keep the lawn thicker. A thicker lawn is more tolerant to disease, more weed resistant, and will stay greener longer. If it has been a few years since you have over-seeded your lawn (or if you can’t remember when), then now is a good time to schedule it. The best time to over-seed is in September.
The winter fertilizer application should include a weed reducing component. Weeds usually take their toll over the winter months due to leaves blocking sunlight and reduce air flow in the lawn, and from thatch containing weed seeds left to sit and cultivate over the winter months. When the spring time rolls around, this combination can create a free for all for weeds. The process to keep your lawn weed free begins by keeping it thatch free, keeping the leaves cleared, and adding the winterized fertilizing with weed control to your lawn maintenance routines.