As summer fades away to make room for fall, one might feel tempted to give up on lawn care for the year. After all, the trees are about to hide everyone’s yard under a layer of fiery, fallen foliage. Then, even if one takes the time to rake up the multicolored leaves, snow will completely cover the yard within just a few months’ time. Why even bother, right? Unfortunately, throwing in the towel now would only result in an unhappy lawn come springtime. If you continue to care for your yard even as temperatures plummet, however, you’ll help your plants weather the winter months and come back even stronger in the spring. Here are some tips that will help you set your yard up for success:
Chop Up Those Leaves!
Leaves will eventually decompose if left on their own, of course, but an entire autumn’s worth of leaves could severely harm your lawn. They could trap moisture and restrict access to fresh air and sunlight, which could in turn damage the grass before it even has a chance to go dormant for the winter. As such, it’s important to somehow remove the leaves from your yard. You could follow the traditional route and rake the leaves into a massive pile, although that might prove too tedious for some. Another option is to simply run over the leaves with a lawnmower. Chopped leaves will provide the grass with more than enough sunlight and airflow. Additionally, they’ll decompose quickly and provide your lawn with tons of useful nutrients!
Cut Your Grass Shorter
Your grass’s length might rank low on your list of priorities during the winter, but it’s important to consider how that might impact your lawn once spring rolls around. Long, dead blades of grass could form a matted web and make it difficult for fresh grass to poke through and obtain sunlight. If you cut your grass an extra inch or two shorter before the snow arrives, however, you’ll provide more than enough room for the fledgling blades to thrive.
Plant Your Saplings
If you have any saplings that you cared for throughout the spring and summer months, now is the best time to plant them. Fall’s cool weather ensures that they won’t be scorched by sunlight, while the soil’s still-warm temperatures will facilitate root growth. Be sure to water these saplings frequently, though, since they’ll need all the help they can get before the harsh reality of winter sets in.
Compost Plant Waste
After you gather up all of the dead leaves, wood, weeds, and garden plants in your yard, it’s recommended that you toss them all into a compost pile (if you have space, that is). Allowing a pile of plant matter to gradually decompose is much more environmentally friendly than burning it. Furthermore, an effective compost pile will eventually generate plenty of fertilizer for your yard! If you bag up your yard waste and set it out to the curb, it’ll simply go to some manufacturer who will then sell it right back to you in the form of organic fertilizer or topsoil. You might as well skip a few steps and save some money by keeping the nutrients in your yard and generating your own healthy soil.
Do note that some plants aren’t fit for the compost pile. Tomato plants, for example, can contract diseases late in the growing season and leave them behind even after they decompose. Fertilizing future tomato plants with the contaminated compost could cause them to get infected early and die before they get a chance to produce fruit. The resources below list other items that should never enter a compost pile:
Pick Up Your Tools
This is also an important note to keep in mind. During the summer, you might leave tools outside for the sake of easy access. It’s tempting, then, to just leave the shovels and rakes outside all year. While many tools are immensely durable, that doesn’t mean they won’t sustain some degree of damage after exposure to winter weather conditions. Be sure to store them in a garage or shed to keep them dry and out of harm’s way. As an aside, you should also be sure to drain your garden hose before you store it away. As I’m sure we’ve all learned after dealing with Michigan’s potholes for years, water expands when it freezes and can cause significant damage. This is true for water left in hoses as well, even though garden hoses appear relatively flexible.
There are plenty of other tricks to cultivating a healthy, successful yard, but these tips should help you stave off the worst of winter’s effects. Best of luck!
Timothy Snyder is a senior studying professional writing. The writing process takes up much of his time, whether it’s for school, work, or recreation. He uses his remaining free time to play video games, cultivate spicy peppers in his garden, and solve rudimentary problems through programming.