Winter brings a few challenges for your lawn – less light, low root oxygen in damp or soggy areas, fungal disease, and the competitive growth of weeds and the other unwanted plants. Here are six great things you can do to keep your turf thriving over the cooler months.
Clear leaves and debris
To improve light levels (which grass needs for healthy growth) make sure all the leaves and debris that fell in autumn are cleared from the grass. Leaving them will encourage fungal growth.
Trim back anything causing shade
Still, on improving light levels, lawn weeds such as lichens, algae, mosses and liverworts get more competitive with your grass during winter as they are more tolerant of low light levels. Deciduous trees and shrubs will have lost their leaves, letting light shine through. Evergreens, however, will need to be pruned and thinned in areas where they provide too much winter shade.
Change the way you mow
Take your time. Raise the mower deck a notch or two and mow at a higher height but more often so there are fewer clippings to deal with. Leaving lots of clippings in big clumps will encourage fungal growths. If you are not catching clippings either cross-mow these in mulching or bagging mode, rake them up manually, or let them dry out for a few days then mow over them in mulching or bagging mode. Also, don’t mow if the ground itself is too soggy and sinks beneath your feet. You’ll squash the grass and disturb the root system.
Treat weeds in autumn
Many broadleaf weeds, moss, liverworts, lichens and algae thrive in the winter; they love the damp and low light. Treating these in autumn is best before grasses go into a dormant stage. One way to do this is to scarify your lawn. This scrapes the mosses, lichens, liverworts, dead leaves and detritus out of the lawn. Talk to us about scarification.
Compacted and clay soils may become waterlogged in winter, cutting off oxygen to the root system. This will open the texture of the soil and improve water movement. If you only have a very small area of grass you could do this with a pitchfork. Larger areas need specialist equipment so talk to us about aeration of your lawn.
You can still feed your lawn over winter as it’s still growing, just a bit more slowly. Liquid fertiliser is faster acting but if your lawn really doesn’t need any more moisture try the granulated food. Spread it lightly and evenly. Grass likes sweet soil, low in acidity so a follow up with a sprinkling of lime a few weeks later. If in doubt of your soil’s pH level, get in touch, we can help.
Let us take care of your turf this winter
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