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Winter lawn care tips

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Your wooden benches look lovely in the fallen leaves and the frosted grass.  You may think all you can do in the winter months is tidy up a little and enjoy a quick hot chocolate sat on your bench.  However, the end of summer does not mean the end of your lawn care.  You will need to get ahead of the game if you want your lawn to be healthy in the following spring.

The time to start preparing your lawn is autumn, with its cooler temperatures and high rainfall.  Even though the grass grows slower in the winter months, it doesn’t mean you should stop caring for it.  In fact, from autumn and through the winter, you should be putting more care into your grass.  These colder months are the time that the lawn is absorbing energy, essential nutrients and moisture.  Therefore, if you pay attention to it, you will be rewarded with the loveliest spring-time garden.

Keep mowing through winter

Although the weather might limit your opportunities, you should still mow your lawn.  Drop the mower to the lowest setting and allow more light to get to the base of the grass.  This will mean less of your lawn will turn brown during the winter.  You should not trim off more than one-third of the grass at a time. Therefore, you may want to lower the cutting height gradually.

Add air to the soil

This is the time when you should aerate your soil.  The aim is to get oxygen, water and fertiliser deep into the grassroots.  You can get an electronic lawn aerator, which is self-propelled and punches holes into the soil.  This is useful if you have a large garden.  Otherwise, you might want to use a fork to dig down into the ground.

Rake the leaves and the debris

Through autumn and winter, you need to keep ahead of the debris.  Raking is a dull and futile task, or so it seems, however rotting leaves on your lawn can breed fungal diseases.  If you are feeling particularly lazy, you can lawnmower the leaves up – as the suction device to pick up cut grass will pick up the leaves instead.  You do not want the detritus of autumn and winter, creating a soggy and suffocated mess of your lawn.

Fertilise now for future growth

It might seem pointless. Fertilising during the autumn and winter will have no noticeable impact at the time, or in the weeks following.  However, if you feed your lawn, you should do it in late autumn – when the grass is growing at its slowest, the temperatures are crisp and the moisture high.  This mix will allow nutrients to get to the soil and help the growth of the grass.  You should choose late autumn, early winter to apply dry lawn fertiliser to your grass for the most impact.

You must be careful not to miss a spot.  You could use a spreader for the best coverage – or a walk-behind spreader.  Most fertiliser cartons come with built-in spreaders now to help with the even spreading of the fertiliser across the lawn.

Work on the bald spots

This time is also perfect for fixing those bare spots.  Although you can’t seed the lawn at this time of year, you can use a lawn repair mixture.  This mixture is sold at garden centres and home DIY stores.  This ready to use mix includes grass seed, quick start fertiliser and organic mulch.  Remember to use a rake for scratching the soil loos at the bald spot.  Spread the mixture and water thoroughly.

Weed control

The final tip is to keep control of the weeds during this period.  The late autumn and winter are times when you can fight back against the scourge of pervasive plant species.  Like with most plants, weeds go into energy-saving during the autumn and winter.  This means that they will drink up everything around them, including a herbicide.  Make sure you read the packaging before applying the weed killer.  Some of these chemicals require daytime temperatures that are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit to be effective.

In short

You may think that late autumn and winter are a time to leave your garden to go a little wild.  However, if you do, you are missing an opportunity to develop a healthy lawn for the spring.  Put in some work now and avoid labour when all you want to do is sit and enjoy some much-needed sun.

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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