Winter Lawn Care. Yes, You Heard Me Correctly!
We're always finding some lawns which are being under maintained November - February. Due to this, then can go backwards through the winter months rather than their condition hold steady. Maybe it's the short days and less time to be out in the garden, the thought / excuse that conditions aren't suitable for any work, or a lack of knowledge of what can be achieved. Assuming the latter, hopefully this blog post can be of help.
Why have you stopped mowing!?
It is important that you do not maintain your lawn by the calendar, but by the current conditions. We speak to many that are set on putting their mower away at the end of October (largely in hope), and tell us this while we're stood around in t-shirts!
The grass plant grows when the soil temperature is 5c or above which in a normal winter, is a certainty in November, and early December in the Midlands - and could even be all year around in the south. Dependent on the weather and how shaded your lawn is, this may equate to cutting your lawn every 2-6 weeks through the winter.
Late autumn through to early spring is a great time to be aerating lawns. We start by hollow-tining while soils are still on the dry side, and continue for most of the winter with our fracture-tine aerator. The ground is soft enough at this time of year to achieve the maximum depth of over 4 inches which is superb for soil health. If a hard frost was to shortly follow, this would only serve to open out these air pockets in the soil further, which roots greatly benefit from as soon as growth resumes.
Our customers lawns benefit from two lawn treatments from October through to mid-February - both of which include an element of moss control. Moss enjoys a typical winter in the UK, more so if a lawn is shady or has a clay based soil. Our applications provide lawns with the correct nutrient inputs for the time of year for a healthy lawn.
We do not undertake any scarifying from November through to January and would advise you do not either. Growth and therefore recovery is slow - this operation will leave your lawn disfigured if carried out properly. Moss will look to invade thin turf if the conditions present themselves. It would be best to hold out until February / March before carrying this out, with good conditions for recovery just around the corner. Some lawn care operators carry out scarification during the depths of winter but we can assure you that this is bad practice.
Clear Those Leaves!
Remember that leaves left on lawns will starve the grass of light and air movement, encouraging disease and moss growth. Be sure to clear leaves on a regular basis to keep your lawn in tip top condition.
Cut back overhanging Shrubs
In a similar vein, shrubs need to be cut back is they will only be competing with your lawn for precious light through the winter period. Lawns without any light will soon die back. With the shortest days upon us, it's vital that lawns gain as much light as possible.
Worms will come to the surface to feed on organic matter. Casting earthworms are active during mild and wet spells of weather. Walking or mowing over these will smear the soil that they have brought up, burying the leaves of grass plants. With grass only growing slowly through winter, it will leave a coin sized hole where grass once was. When the lawn has had chance to dry, clear wormcasts with a stiff broom before mowing (much like newly formed ants nests through summer) to avoid any lasting damage.