The Winter Lawn Care Checklist
Lawns tend not to get quite the same level of love across winter months as they do across summer. Sure, there's less mowing to be done and the weather isn't quite as pleasant, but there is a great deal still to do. Our very best lawns are the ones in which pride is being taken in them all year around.
It is not advisable to work on your lawn and garden during periods of frost, icy weather or waterlogging. Fortunately, these periods are still in the minority even throughout the typical UK winter. November / December are often very productive months - so get ahead of the following checklist when you can, just in case!
1 - Leaves
We're getting the dull, repetitive one out of the way first. Fallen leaves can undo a lot of hard work across the year if left in situ. Leaves block light and air from reaching the thousands of grass plants which make up your lawn. Under this leaf cover grass will begin to die back and yellow and become attractive for moss growth and casting worms. Dependent on your location try to clear leaves twice a week for the best lawn health. When there is just a few this might be achieved by mowing.
2 - Overhanging Trees and Bushes These may be contributing to your leaf problem for starters! When grass receives less light, it cannot sustain it's size. This means grass leaves die back, leaving a thinner looking lawn and and increased risk of moss invading this space. Some lawns sit in the shade over the winter due to immovable objects such as buildings and protected trees. If your garden struggles for light over the winter months then now is the time to act before our days get shorter and grass health deteriorates.
3 - Mowing Grass growth continues when the soil temperature is above 5c. Unless we have had a succession of hard frosts or snow by the time of reading this, we can be sure that your lawn is still growing. If it is growing then it needs mowing! Lawns can still look fantastic across the winter months. Continuing to mow will help to maintain the density of the lawn, and will deter moss and weeds. As ever, take care not to remove more than a third (ideally less) of the height of the lawn with any one cut. You lawn may be slow to recover from a shock at this time of year, and would only help to thin the density of the grass cover and make your lawn more prone to moss growth. It's difficult to say how many times you will need to mow over the winter as this will depend on how much light reaches your lawn and the temperature of the soil. Mowing once a month mid winter is a best guess.
4 - Treatment? Some may question the benefit of having lawns treated across the winter months. Lawn treatments aren't all about top growth - the demands of the grass plant are wide and varied. In mid-winter our focus is on moss control, improving soil conditions and strong root development. Moss thrives in our damp winter months. Doing nothing and waiting for a bigger problem in spring isn't our style! We include a moss control within our Autumn (Oct-Dec), Winter (Dec-Feb) and Spring (Feb-Apr) lawn treatments. No matter when the wettest winter months arrive, we keep moss in check, and can delivery flexible application rates dependent on the conditions. We apply a natural granular Soil Improver with our Autumn treatment, and a Spring Starter Fertiliser within our Spring treatment. Many of our lawns can make it through a wet winter with very little moss.
5 - Aeration
Aeration is a key operation for any turf surface. There are many forms of aeration, different types of tine (spike) which can go into a lawn but the overriding objectives and benefits remain the same.
Improved surface drainage - moss control via mechanical means
Roots grow in air pockets - an increase in root mass and depth
Improved nutrient uptake - roots can reach tonnes of unused soil
Gaseous exchange - vital oxygen to the rootzone
Helps to prevent dry patch - hydrophobic soil conditions in summer
A form of thatch control - air aiding the natural breakdown of thatch
Look to aerate your lawn at least once over the winter period. Use an aerator for this task rather than a garden fork. The wriggling around of a fork works to push earth to the side, compacting other areas. Pulling a fork backwards works to shear the roots of the grass. Garden forks are best served preparing soil for planting.
Thought that there wasn't much to do before Christmas? Think again! If you've any questions, please post them in the comments below.