Preparing Lawns for Winter
With a variety of season-end chores
to do, gardeners tend to neglect the lawn. There are a few guidelines
to consider when preparing lawns for winter that can help keep problems
to a minimum.
As conditions cool down in fall, some grasses go dormant faster
than others, leading to multicolored lawns. For example, warm-season
perennial grasses, such as nimblewill, appear as white or light
gray patches in the lawn. Crabgrass, a warm-season annual, dies
off in early fall, leaving brown areas in the lawn. Different cultivars
of desirable lawn grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, may vary
in how fast they go dormant, which can add to the mottled appearance
of lawns this time of year.
One of the main problems facing lawns over winter is snow mold disease.
Remember all the crusty patches early last spring as the snow melted
away? Lawns left very high for the winter, along with being covered
with debris such as leaves, are prime candidates for damage. Other
factors increasing the chances for snow mold include excess nitrogen
fertilizer, shade, poor drainage, and excess thatch.
Avoid heavy snow mold development by cleaning up fallen leaves
and other debris off your lawn. If the lawn is quite tall, a final
mowing may be needed; although it could be too late if grasses have
gone dormant and are matted down. Also avoid packing down snow cover
on lawns, as slowly melting areas may be more prone to snow mold
early next spring.
Another lawn problem that can be very visible early next spring
is vole or field mouse damage. These animals will leave a series
of winding trails in the grass as they burrow under snow cover.
Cleaning up leaves and mowing until the end of the season will help
minimize damage. In addition, remove any excess vegetative debris
near lawn areas, as it could be cover for voles.
Finally, one last problem to consider this winter is salt damage
to lawn grasses. Avoid shoveling or plowing snow containing high
levels of deicing salts onto turf areas, as high levels of salt
will lead to turf damage next spring. Try to clear snow before putting
down salt and only use enough salt to get the job done.
October - November 2000: Recycling
Leaves in the Yard | Fall Garden Wrap-Up
Checklist | Preparing Lawns for Winter | Pumpkins