Close up of frosted grass in lawn.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

The fall season is finally upon us! That means for many homeowners, it’s time to start preparing your lawn for winter. 

Getting the prep work done now will ensure that your lawn is ready to thrive for the next growing season. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your lawn winter-ready.

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter 101

1. Identify Nutrient Deficiencies

Using a soil test from any garden center, test your soil’s pH levels to help identify any nutrient deficiencies. Heading into the colder months, northern soil typically lacks nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, so you’ll want to choose the right fertilizer to help boost these nutrient levels. 

Late season fertilizer applications help with spring growth and nitrogen can be applied through mid-October.

2. Water As Needed

Grass needs less water as the weather cools down at night. Continue watering your lawn up until the first hard frost of the year. Typically, this occurs at the end of October. Once the winter freeze officially arrives, grass plants will go dormant.

If you are overseeding your lawn this fall, please follow our guide to learn how often your lawn needs water, as well as other important lawn maintenance steps for success come spring!  

3. Mulch Clippings and Leaves

Continue mowing regularly to mulch your leaves, as this provides food for your lawn’s soil microbes. Mulched leaves should not cover your grass completely, however. 

If you have too many leaves, you may need to go over it several times with the lawn mower to create a finer mulch, or you may need to bag and remove some of them to avoid smothering the lawn. Mulched leaves are free organic matter for your soil and are beneficial to a healthy soil.

4. Mow Lower

Here in Minnesota, grass typically stops growing in mid-to-late November, in preparation for the onslaught of frost and snow. Mow often enough to slowly lower your cutting height gradually, so you avoid cutting more than ⅓ of the grass blade. 

For your final mow of the season, lower the blade of your mower to 2.5” to clean up debris, prevent snow mold, deter rodents and prepare the grass for a fresh start come spring. 

5.  Consider Dormant Seeding

Bare areas or thin grass can benefit from dormant seeding. This process helps repair grass in time for next year. Timing is critical, though, so you’ll want to apply seed when the soil is not frozen, but the temperatures are so cold that germination will not start until spring. Depending on your climate, this may occur between late October to mid-November. 

Establishing good seed-to-contact and water maintenance are essential during this seeding process. The University of Minnesota offers a helpful guide on dormant seeding, including how to choose seed and how to prepare your lawn for this treatment.

6.  Consider Broadleaf Weed Control  

The best time to apply broadleaf weed control is in the fall. During this season, weeds are preparing for dormancy, making them become weak and more susceptible to attack.  

You may apply chelated iron up until the air temperatures reach 55 degrees.  Please note that weed control and seeding efforts should be timed correctly to prevent conflict. It is best to apply broadleaf weed control about 1 week before any seeding begins.

Need Help Winterizing Your Lawn? 

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to prepare your lawn for winter, reach out to the experts at Organic Lawns by Lunseth. Naturally, we can help!

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