Like it or not, we’re just about at the end of the lawn season. And if you’ve been a reader of Mower Source‘s blog, then you know we’re about to roll out some lawn care tips to get it ready for hibernation.
Give Your Lawn Food for the Winter
You know how bears, bats and squirrels hibernate to save on energy during the colder months (never minding that bears actually go into a torpor and not hibernation? Your lawn does exactly the same thing. It sort of takes an extended nap during the winter, slowing down a lot of its natural processes to safeguard itself against the harsh cold. And unlike animals, your lawn can’t fill its “stomach” and relies on you to do so. From around Labor Day to mid-October-ish is when you’ll want to give it its “fall fertilizer feeding”.
Prune Plants and Trees
This isn’t entirely a necessary step, but we mean that in the sense that it’s also not really necessary for you to completely give up trimming your fingernails. Not pruning plants and trees won’t kill your lawn (or your plants and trees), but it makes them look neat and tidy and gives them a head’s start on the upcoming winter season.
The main point of pruning is to remove those twigs and flowers and whatnot so that during the winter, they’re not taking up valuable food and resources that could otherwise be going to the root of the plant/tree, which is essential for its winter hibernation. It’s just a way of ensuring that the most important part of the plant/tree has no impediments to its energy source.
Prep Your Perennials
Sometimes, pruning isn’t quite enough and you have to take an extra step. Some perennials (those plants that grow back year after year) need to be cut back and/or divided so they can grow with gusto next spring. It’s super easy to do this, too: ornamental grasses should be trimmed to about 3″ of height (but Google to make sure depending on what ornamental grass you’ve got), while flowering perennials should be cut to almost double that height (about 5″ tall). But again, Google each grass or flowering plant to make sure you’re cutting it to the right height.
Start Planting Fall Bulbs
A seasoned gardener will tell you that planting bulbs in the early, early spring is the wrong time for it, that early spring just doesn’t give bulbs enough time to fully take root and flower in their natural period. Instead, you’ll want to wait until the day after the first frost and plant bulbs, which can include daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and tulips. One exception is the Iris, which should be planted now (i.e. mid-to-late summer).
Tidy Up the Messy Areas
You’ll have to wait until late October/early November to do this because trees just won’t be dropping their leaves until then. But once that time hits, then bust out the rake and gather up fallen leaves, petals, twigs and anything else that’s covering your lawn. Not only does this un-smother your grass and plants, but it allows both of them to breathe and get all comfy-cozy under a layer of snow. Think of it like taking off the clothes and books from your bed before going to sleep.
One Last Run on the Soil and Grass
There are two last — and important — things you should do before putting your lawn mower away for the year:
- Set your lawn mower blades a little higher than usual so the grass isn’t cut as short. This is the grass equivalent of letting it grow a thicker coat to protect itself against cold, snow and frost.
- Aerate your lawn so water and nutrients aren’t compacted and stuck under the surface, but rather can travel where it needs to so as to ensure all parts of sub-surface soil is getting fed throughout the winter.