After a long year of lawn care, November marks the beginning of the end for vibrant green grass. But just because your lawn is entering dormancy doesn’t mean you should. There are still a few end-of-season steps to take that will help ensure a healthy bloom next spring.
Since we have already experienced freezing temperatures throughout the region, it’s too late to seed or fertilize your lawn if you haven’t already. Thankfully, it’s not too late to learn how to winterize your lawn with a few finishing touches.
Mulch the Leaves
When the time comes to dispose of that fresh coating of leaves in your yard, you might automatically reach for a rake, but you don’t have to. Mulching is a great alternative to raking because it takes less effort and provides nourishment for your lawn. When you mulch leaves, the leftover pieces naturally decompose during the winter, feeding the soil with nutrients. What’s more, insects and earthworms feed on the leaf matter, providing additional soil aeration before the ground freezes solid.
There are also indirect environmental benefits to leaf mulching that aren’t immediately obvious. Collecting leaves with a rake or leaf blower requires resources that can take a toll on the environment. Once homeowners bag their leaves, transporting them for disposal is costly and requires fossil fuels. Additionally, mulched leaves take up a tenth of the volume of full leaves — piles of larger leaves can lead to drain clogging and flooding. Do yourself, and the environment, a favor by setting your lawnmower to its mulch setting this month.
Prepare the Irrigation System
Winter conditions can easily take a toll on your irrigation system, so it’s important to prepare your pipes and sprinklers for subzero temperatures. Start to winterize your sprinkler system by cutting off the water supply. Once you’ve stopped the flow of water, insulate the main shut off valve with foam insulation tape and a plastic bag. You should also insulate any above-ground pipes with foam insulating tubes (these are easy to find in most home improvement stores). If your sprinkler system is automatic, look for a “rain mode” on the controller and choose this setting. This will prevent any signals from reaching your irrigation valves. If you can’t find this setting, simply turn the controller off.
Because ice expands, it’s essential to drain your pipes before freezing water inside rips them apart. It takes an automatic drain valve, manual drain valve or compressed air blow out to clear the pipes. As all of these methods are complicated and potentially dangerous and therefore best left to professionals.
Take the Pressure Off Your Lawn
In the summer, leaving things out on the lawn isn’t an issue. But lawn furniture, children’s toys and fallen branches that find their way onto the lawn during the warmer months can take a toll on the grass when temperatures plummet. Over time, their weight presses down on the soil, compacting it and making it more difficult for grass to grow in the spring. It only takes one snowfall to blanket the yard and hide these objects, so take the time to remove them before they vanish in a sea of white.
Besides the clutter that ends up in the yard, be mindful of your own footsteps on the lawn in late fall. Foot traffic leads to the same compaction as any other type of weight, which means you might even spot your tracks next spring as small patches of brown. To avoid the temptation of taking a shortcut through the yard, make sure to shovel your sidewalks after any significant snowfall.
Get Ready for Next Year
If you want to get the most out of your lawn in 2018, take action today. The tips above are a great start, but to make your job easier, enlist our experts to take control of your lawn care. Reach out today to get year-round support for a lawn that will make your neighbors jealous.