With the change of seasons comes a change in care if you want to get the best out of your lawn.
During the summer, your maintenance has been based on suppressing weeds and watering to keep it from burning. As the seasons shift, it’s time to prepare your lawn for winter this month. A rule of thumb has been to winterize four to six weeks before the first frost. For Atlanta, that’s usually the first of November, so September is the perfect time to get started.
Aerate: Do that now and perhaps twice more throughout the winter to keep the soil from compacting, which chokes roots and keeps water from draining properly.
Fertilize: Shift to ‘winterizer’ fertilizer with additional phosphorus and potassium that will reach deep into the roots to strengthen them before harsh weather happens.
Pre-emergent: Should you use pre-emergent weed treatment on the lawn now or at the end of winter? Some experts recommend putting it down now to stifle spring weed growth in its tracks, while others believe there is a more concentrated effect on weeds if done just before they sprout.
Overseeding: The Georgia Gardener, Walter Reeves, recommends that Bermuda grass will die for the winter, so overseed it with Ryegrass in September. The Ryegrass grows well all winter and then dies off in summer heat, which is what Bermuda thrives on. You’ll have a green lawn all year. Creating just the right balance is best done by lawn professionals.
Watering: Continue to water the grass when there has been little rain. However, if you have an irrigation system, drain it for the winter to keep it from developing cracks.
Leaves: Keep the lawn clear of leaves and other things that could rot or stifle growth. You want the grass to continue getting as much sunlight as possible.
Mow: Do you need to mow during the off season? Yes, say experts. Keep the grass at a height of about 2.5 – 3 inches throughout the winter, to keep the roots covered for maximum health.
Keep Off The Grass: You may have lots of holiday guests who want to park on the lawn, or children who can’t resist playing in the yard. Make other arrangements to avoid marring the grass that you have been protecting.
With cooler weather coming, doing a little outdoor work to prepare your lawn for fall can be a relaxing and satisfying project with gorgeous results. Enjoy!