A lawn with a canadian flag prepared for winter weather.

Seven Ways to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter Weather

Residents of the Greater Toronto Area may not find winter in the region all that harsh, but lawns do. Cold winds, freezing rain, and other weather conditions can take a toll on any lawn. Proper pre-winter lawn preparation will ensure your lawn can survive the cold season and easily bounce back in the spring.

Simple But Effective Ways to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

A lush green lawn can improve your property’s curb appeal. But that kind of lawn does not grow overnight. It takes regular maintenance and proper care, especially before winter. If you want a beautiful green lawn the following spring, you should put time and effort into winter lawn preparation. Here are some steps involved in the process:

1. Cut Grass to the Recommended Length

Part of lawn care before winter is cutting the grass to the recommended length.

Most grasses grow more slowly once the daytime temperature stays below 10 degrees Celsius, but it does not mean you can do away with mowing before winter. The grass is still growing, and if it reaches more than three inches tall when the first frost falls, the lawn will be more susceptible to winter diseases and stress. Mowing too low won’t be good for your lawn, either.

The ideal grass-cutting height varies depending on the grass type. On average, the grass height should be around 2 inches for the winter. Since it’s not recommended to mow more than half of the grass’ total height, you may have to mow the lawn a few times to reach the recommended height for winter.

2. Fertilize the Lawn

Perennial grass goes to sleep in winter to preserve scarce resources. But before the grass becomes dormant, give them a dose of fertilizer. Enough nutrients will allow them to grow stronger roots and store food enough to bounce back in spring. Additionally, fertilizing the lawn helps damaged areas to recover more quickly.

You need to use fertilizers specially formulated to meet the needs of grass in winter. This type of fertilizer is also called winterizer. They contain a higher amount of nitrogen and potassium. However, the ideal ratio of these nutrients still depends on the condition of your soil. If you’re asking, “What should I put on my lawn to prepare for winter?” you must conduct a soil test first or ask a lawn care expert.

3. Aerate Your Soil

Lawns go through a lot in the summer when the weather is perfect for spending time outdoors. You probably had backyard BBQs, let your kids and pets play in the yard, started an outdoor construction, etc. People and machines have probably trampled all over your backyard throughout the summer. These activities can compact the soil.

Soil compaction isn’t good for grass. When the soil is compacted, essential nutrients, water, and oxygen will find it difficult to reach the grassroots. As a result, your lawn won’t grow lush and healthy. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to solve soil compaction issues. You’ll just need to poke tiny holes in the soil, a process called aeration.

Aeration is a crucial part of preparing lawns for winter, so make sure to include it in your to-do list this fall. Choose to aerate when the lawn soil is moist and not soggy. In terms of tools, you have many options like a garden fork, hollow tine aerator, and plug aerator.

4. Remove Debris

Before the winter sets in, ensure no debris is lying around your lawn. Lawn ornaments, leaf piles, wood piles, and other debris pose health risks for your lawn and even attract pests searching for a refuge from the cold. While most winter lawn pests are harmless, a few, like mosquitoes and grubs, are dangerous. They carry viruses and ruin your lawn.

In addition to removing debris, make sure to remove weeds as well. Weeds will compete with your grass for already limited resources like water, sunlight, and nutrients. Use appropriate weeding techniques because some weeds, specifically perennial ones, can survive even with just a few roots left.

5. Control the Thatch

For those who don’t know what thatch is yet, it’s a layer of organic matter, like roots, that builds up around the base of the plant. A thin layer of thatch is beneficial for your lawn. It can help conserve soil moisture and protect the grass from soil temperature fluctuations.

But if the layer of thatch gets too thick, the grass suffers. Thatch will prevent water, air, and essential nutrients from penetrating the soil and reaching grass roots. Additionally, it can harbor disease-causing organisms like snow mold and make the grass more susceptible to other winter injuries. That’s why thatch control is essential.

6. Treat Bare Lawn Patches

If there are bare patches because of summer activities and weather, consider fixing them before the winter sets in. You can get special patching kits, which include everything you need to treat bare lawn patches. Or you can shop for the right grass seed and quality topsoil if you have more time.

With mild, shorter days and cool nights, fall provides the ideal conditions for seeds to germinate. But to ensure the seed will grow and thrive in spring, distribute them properly and make certain they are in contact with the soil. Or you can hire experts in lawn care near you to take care of treating bare lawn patches.

7. Cover With Mulch

Cover the lawn with mulch to protect it from lower temperatures and harsher winter weather. Mulch can be made out of coarse shredded fall leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, etc.

A substantial amount of mulch can insulate the grass, maintain soil temperature, and minimize grass root damage from the freeze-thaw cycle. Mulching can also prevent weed seeds from coming in contact with the soil, inhibiting their growth. It can also reduce soil erosion from precipitation and runoff. Once the mulch decomposes, it will also add nutrients to the soil.

It might be easier to load the mulch in a wheelbarrow and move it to the various lawn spots. Afterward, you can use a shovel to scatter mulch from the barrow among the beds in small piles. Wearing work gloves, scatter the mulch using your hands to create an even layer throughout the ground.

The Importance of Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

If you’re asking, “How do I make my grass look good in the winter?,” you must note that proper preparation is the key.

As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, your lawn undergoes a natural transformation. Taking steps to help your lawn through this seasonal change is crucial.

First, a well-prepped lawn is more resilient to the harsh winter elements. Raking leaves and debris not only keeps your yard looking tidy but also prevents mold and disease from taking hold. Trimming your grass slightly shorter than during the growing season makes the grass less susceptible to snow mold and other cold-weather issues.

Another reason for winter preparation is that it aids in the growth of robust, deep grass roots. Aerating your soil and applying a layer of winter-appropriate fertilizer helps your grass establish strong roots. Healthy roots mean healthier grass in the long run.

Lastly, a well-maintained lawn adds to the aesthetic appeal of your home. It’s inviting, even in winter months, and sets the stage for a beautiful spring revival. So, invest some effort in preparing your lawn for winter, and you’ll reap the rewards when nature awakens once more.

Professional Pre-Winter Lawn Preparation

Preparing lawns for winter is a ton of work. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to do everything themselves. If you can’t carve out time to prep your lawn, don’t worry because LawnMart’s experts in lawn care are here to assist and do some of the heavy lifting for you. We offer weed control, pest control, and other lawn care services. We’ll ensure your lawn is ready to face the challenges of winter, employing natural methods and using organic products.

For more information, please feel free to contact us today.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.