Where did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday, it was spring and we were sharing tips to preparing your lawn for the spring. Now, the weather is slowly beginning to turn colder and it is time to make sure the lawn is cleaned up and prepared for being dormant in the winter.
The Cleveland area had a very dry summer, in fact, it was one of the driest in years. We would go for nearly a few weeks without rain. The once lush grass started to go brown and dormant. There was a time, where you wouldn’t hear the roar of lawn mowers, because the grass was not growing.
In order to get our grass ready for the colder weather, now is the time to properly prepare it for the winter months.
- Thatch: During the hot long summer months, moss could have “taken over” your lawn. The fall is the time to kill off the moss with a lawn moss herbicide. Then once the moss has died off, use a spring-tined rake to vigorously thatch the lawn. Raking will improve the look and health of the turf.
- Aerate: Lawns should be aerated every 2-3 years. The best time to do this when soil is moist. To aerate, drive in a fork or use a hollow-tiner to pull out plugs of soil. Move across the lawn aerating in 4-inch intervals.
- Apply Top Dressing: After raking and aerating the lawn, put a top dressing into the holes. The top dressing can be purchased as a premixed solution from garden centers and hardware stores.
- Brush in Dressing: Work in the top dressing evenly by using a stiff brush lightly filing the new aeration areas. Then cover the ground to encourage strong rooting.
- Fertilize: Apply a granular autumn lawn fertilizer evenly over the soil. Water the lawn if there is no rain within three days of applying the fertilizer. In the fall, the soil is still warm and moist enough to sow grass seeds. Sprinkle seed to match the lawn type at half the recommended rate for new lawns to help thicken any bald spots from overuse during the summer. Fertilization is critical during the fall months, giving the lawn an additional nutrient boost during the dormant winter months. Even during the winter months, grass roots will keep growing and utilize stored nutrients until next spring.
- Rake the Leaves: Leaves should be raked or blown away at least once a week. A leaf free lawn improves the home appearance, but also helps improve the lawn’s health by allowing sunlight through to the grass, which is needed for the grass during the winter months.
- Weed Control: Apply a pre-emergent weed killer to help prevent weed growth over the winter months.
- Shorter Lawn: In the last fall, mow your lawn 1-2 inches shorter than the rest of the summer. Continue to cut the grass shorter until it stops growing.
The fall lawn prep can be done on your own or you can hire a lawn care or landscaping company to help with this task. Fontanez Landscaping LLC is a local landscaping company that Mae recommends.
Storing Summer Lawn Equipment
Summer lawn and garden equipment and tools require proper storage during the winter months. Preparing lawn equipment for winter storage will allow you to use them again in the spring with little additional effort.
Garden Tool Storage Ideas
Garden tools should be cleaned and stored in a dry location. Shovels and rakes can be hung on a garage or shed wall for storage during the winter months. If you need storage space, bundle shovels, rakes and brooms together inside a garbage can. Smaller tools such as pruners and trowels should be cleaned, dried and sharped before storage and then store inside plastic bins. Label the bins with the contents for easier retrieval in the spring. Consult with the owner’s manual for cleaning and storage instructions for motorized lawn and garden equipment such as trimmers or edgers.
Lawn Mower Storage Tips
If you follow the proper lawn mower storage tips, your lawn mower will be in great working order for the spring mowing season. Check the manufacturer manual before performing mower cleaning and storage. When you use the lawn mower for the last time in the fall, examine the mower for any damage or needed damage. If the mower is damaged, decide if it is worth it to be repaired to better to be disposed. Below are a few tips to get your mower ready for winter storage:
- The mower should be cleaned after the season’s last use.
- Remove and sharpen the blades.
- Empty the gas tank before placing in storage for the winter months. Never store any equipment with combustible components such as gasoline.
- Check the oil, air filters, spark plugs and batteries.
- Place cardboard or a plastic tarp on the ground when storing a lawn mower.
- Cover the machine with a breathable canvas tarp while in storage.
Sometimes it seems as if lawn care is never ending, but it is also quite relaxing and the results can be worth it. If you prepare your lawn now, it will stay in good condition throughout the winter and be ready for the warmer weather and spring clean-up next March.