Experienced gardeners know that the care they take in the garden can pay off in spades in the spring (bad pun totally intended), but did you know that the same is true for lawn care? If you want a lush and healthy lawn next year for those croquet tournaments and badminton throw-downs, follow these 5 steps to prepare it for winter and set it up for success in the spring.
1. Mow lower. The organic lawn is typically mowed higher (up to 3”) to allow more nutrients to develop, but when the grass is dormant over the winter, you can mow lower. Not only does it look neater, it discourages damaging field mice from staking claim over the cooler months. Lower your blade to 2.5” during the fall, and then for the last mow of the season (early November), lower it to 2 inches.
2. Sow grass seed. Got thin spots in your lawn? Now’s the time to fill ‘em in. Scratch the soil with a hard rake, scatter your grass seed, and cover with a light layer of compost or high-quality garden soil. Water frequently until grass seed germinates.
3. Fertilize. The fall is the ideal time to fertilize your lawn because it encourages deep and healthy roots to develop over the winter months. Fertilize in early autumn, and always follow package instructions. Follow up with a late fall application of corn gluten meal to prevent spring weeds.
4. Pull weeds. Some weeds like chickweed, plantain, and crabgrass go to seed in the fall, so you’ll want to get them out of your lawn before they have the chance to do the deed. Either pull them out by hand or spray them with an organic horticultural vinegar solution with at least 10% vinegar, being careful to avoid surrounding grass or plants.
5. Rake. Raking leaves not only makes your lawn look neater, it prevents dead patches in your grass next spring. Toss them into your compost pile, or bag them to use as mulch in the spring garden.