“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”- Liberty Hyde Bailey
A garden enhances the beauty of your home; you can peacefully read a book, play with your kids, throw a party, and watch your dog get excited by seeing the pile of leaves and jumping into it. And for you to keep enjoying your lawn, you must maintain it according to the seasons. Winter has arrived, and if you’re unfamiliar with seasonal yard maintenance, then this guide is for you, as we’re going to provide you with tips about preparing your lawn for winter, and the importance and technique for winterizing your sprinkler system.
Lawn-mowing is an essential part of yard maintenance, regardless of the season, and a proper lawn mowing technique can help you keep your garden healthy. Repeat the lawn mowing process every two weeks till all the leaves are done falling. This will make sure that the sunlight and nutrients reach the ground. Keep your grass safe, reduce fungus growth during snowfall, and delay cutting until summer arrives by keeping it at a recommended length; Recommended length varies according to the type of grass, the general length for the preparation of winter is,
- 1.5 inches for warm climates
- 0.75 inches for cool climates
When preparing your lawn for winter, keep in mind that if the grass in your garden is taller than 3 inches, you should gradually reduce the height over a few mowings. Make sure that you mow no more than one-third of the grass length at a time to be sure that you’re not stressing the plants. Failure to mow the lawn and rake the leaves can be detrimental to the health of your lawn; it can cause diseases, attract pests, cause brown patches, and snow mold. Matted down leaves can even stunt the growth of your grass, and such a layer of leaves form a barrier that blocks any possible sunlight, water, nutrients, and healthy air flow from getting down to the root system of your grass.
Fertilizing is another crucial aspect of preparing your lawn for winter, and if you choose the right time to fertilize, you can ensure that your lawn will stay healthy through winter. For cool-season grasses like Bluegrass, Red Fescue, Bentgrass, etc., it is best to fertilize in October-November, or around two or three weeks before the soil freezes, with a natural winter fertilizer.
It is better to fertilize before September if you have warm-season grass like St. Augustine, Centipede, Bermuda, etc. because it promotes new growth. But if you don’t have the time, you can fertilize it in fall as well.
Fertilizing is essential for yard maintenance because plants respond to external stimuli in the fall, such as changes in daylight and temperature, to begin the winter preparation process. Plants, including turf grass, respond by slowing growth and moving food reserves from leaves to roots as days shorten and the air becomes colder. This also plays a vital role to fuel growth when summer comes around. Many kinds of plants’ roots remain active in the ground even as the temperature gets colder, and feeding the active roots by fertilizing your grass in the fall gives them even more nutrients for winter storage.
Soil aeration becomes necessary when preparing your lawn for winter; Aerating means perforating the soil on your grass. The small holes created by aeration encourage the absorption of soil, water, and vital nutrients down to the grassroots. Also, roots grow deeper and become more durable when they receive an ample supply of these resources. Aeration offers a remedy for one common problem faced by lawn owners, which is soil compaction. Compaction of the soil prevents the roots of the grass from receiving the essential resources needed for optimal growth. The grass can be starved by compacted soil combined with lawn thatch.
Though time-consuming, a plug remover is best for aeration. For your basic aeration needs, you can use a simple spike wheel.
Thatch is the layer formation of dead grass and other plant matter at the grass blade base, which covers the soil. All of our lawns have thatch, and an excess of thatch can cause a problem. A thickness of up to 1/2 inch of thatch is favorable; anything over 3/4 inch means that you need to dethatch your garden. Like mowing, dethatching promotes good root health by exposing the soil to sunlight, air, water, and other necessary nutrients. Use a manual or power dethatcher to dethatch during yard maintenance; help the grass recover quickly by watering the lawn immediately and continue watering as usual.
When preparing your lawn for winter, look for patches where the grass is sparse and use a half-inch layer of aged compost so you can be ready for seeding. Be sure to use cured compost and that it is dry, crumbly, and cool to the touch. Spread the compost by hand and then work it in using a leaf rake.
Fall serves as the perfect time to make sure that the compost pile is ready for next spring. Before winter comes, while you’re cleaning your yard, be sure to add some of the “brown” that your compost needs. Gather some leaves, shred them if possible, and add them to your pile of compost. The leaves will prevent moisture from getting into the pile and also add a little protection to the compost.
Pro Tip for yard maintenance: If the compost you’re using to dress your lawn is warm and smells bad, then don’t use it for your lawn as it can cause severe damage to your garden and waste valuable time and effort. Warm compost can harbor bacteria and burn the grass of your beautiful yard.
If you have cold-season grass in your lawn, fall is the best time to plant grass seeds when preparing your lawn for winter. Because the seeds will be able to germinate before the ground freezes, this will help the new grass to grow when spring comes. Apply the seeds after you’ve aerated and dethatched your garden, then apply fertilizer and water to your lawn. The seeds can develop easily because of less competition from weeds and have protection from the scorching heat of summer, causing the soil to dry.
In regions where warm-season grasses are common, it is best to plant grass seed in late spring or early summer because that’s the time when warm-season grasses germinate. For the best outcome, use seeds that are best suited for your climate. This information is usually on the bag.
Winterizing Your Sprinkler System
When preparing your lawn for winter, winterizing your sprinkler system is probably the most vital step, because when water freezes it spreads, the pipes in or around your home can break or burst. This includes your sprinkler system, and that’s why you are strongly encouraged to never leave your sprinkler system on during the winter as you may end up repairing or worse, replacing the whole system (which can cost up to $5,000). Explore some of the consequences as a result of failing to winterize your sprinkler system here.
Steps you need to take for winterizing your sprinkler system are as follows;
- Insulate: The water supply to your sprinkler system must be shut down, and the main shut off valve needs to be protected with insulation so that it doesn’t freeze. You can use foam or plastic insulation to protect the shut off valve. A shut off valve is a valuable investment considering it protects your sprinkler system. If you don’t have one, we would be more than happy to install one for you. Click here for more info. After you’re finished insulating your main shut off valve, wrap above ground piping using self-sticking insulation or foam insulating tubes.
- Shut Down: The timer or controller needs to be shut down in case you have an automatic sprinkler system. The majority of sprinkler systems have a built-in “rain mode,” which prevents the valves from turning on. By enabling “rain mode,” you will be able to save your sprinkler’s schedule (on times, valve open times, etc.), and your sprinkler’s clock will keep running. If the pump is activated through a controller, remove the wires, connected to the master valve and terminals, as a precaution. If your sprinkler system doesn’t have rain mode, then turn off the power by using the controller, but keep in mind that by turning the power off, you’ll lose your settings and schedule and will have to reprogram them when you turn the system back on.
- Drain: After completing the above steps, draining the pipes is the next step when winterizing your sprinkler system. By draining the pipes and sprinklers, you make sure that it won’t burst due to the thermal expansion of water left inside. There are three ways to remove water from your sprinkler system; by using a manual drain valve or an automatic drain valve or through the Blow-out method. The best way to do it is through the blow-out method, as it removes every drop of water from the sprinkler system, preventing it from damage. Blow-out method requires an industrial-grade air compressor, and keeping in mind that a majority of people don’t have that lying around in their home, you should call professionals. We deal with winterizing sprinkler systems at this time every year, so contact us for any services you may need.
Consider Professional for your Landscaping Needs
“I grew up at my grandmother’s house, and she had a beautiful garden. I used to hate mowing the lawn and weeding, which is what you do when you’re a kid. I loathe gardening, but I love gardens, and I have two beautiful gardens.” – Elton John
If you are like Elton John and hate having to do yard maintenance, whether it is preparing your lawn for winter or winterizing your sprinkler system, but still would like to have a beautiful garden where you can relax and spend quality time with your family; you need not worry because you can avail professional yard maintenance services provided by Allen Outdoor Solutions. Not only do we provide yard maintenance services, but we can also design your lawn according to your budget. Whether commercial or residential, one of the best things about us is that we provide multiple warranties to ensure that the landscaping needs for your yard are fulfilled. The warranties they provide are,
- Landscape Warranty: 6 months’ warranty for all landscape plantings.
- Irrigation Warranty: 2 years’ warranty for craftsmanship and 1-5 years’ warranty on the products.
- Lighting Warranty: 1-year warranty for labor and by using Kichler products, you get a lifetime warranty for transformers, 15 years on LED light fixtures, and three years on halogen lights (excluding the bulbs).
Allen Outdoor Solutions offers a range of yard maintenance services like detaching, aerating, over seeding, fertilization, soil testing, disease management snow removal, tree, and shrub care, and pest control. We also help to prepare your lawn for winter, summer, and other seasons — installation and maintenance of a sprinkler system, including winterizing your sprinkler system.
Allen Outdoor also offers you design-related solutions such as,
- Outdoor Lighting: Whether for ambiance, security, or to enhance the beauty of your home.
- Landscaping: Design, Installation, and maintenance all according to your budget and design ideas.
- Hardscaping: Hardscape design, installation, and maintenance services for driveways, sidewalks, walkways, patio, and outdoor paver stairs; outdoor entertainment like kitchens, bars, etc. to complement and enhance the beauty of your landscape.
- Fencing: Installation and maintenance of your fences and a variety of fencing material from which you can choose from, including invisible, wood, metal, and vinyl.
To view a gallery so you can get an idea of the quality of service that Allen Outdoor Solutions provides, click here.
If you want to read the reviews of some of their customers, click here.