Winterizing Your Lawn

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Everyone loves the idea of a lush, green lawn around their home. As summer ends and fall sets in, the season of fertilizing and mowing comes to an end. But spring comes along sooner than you think. When it does, you'll want to have your lawn looking good again. So think about winterizing your lawn now to ensure a good start to next year.

Give it Air and Water

Just like people, lawns need air and water to survive. Aerating your lawn in the fall loosens the soil and allows fresh air and water and nutrients to get into the soil and right down to the grass roots. Aerating with a rented power aerator takes less than 1/2 a day and makes a tremendous difference in your lawn's health and appearance next spring.

Over time, a buildup of grass clippings as well as leaves, stems and seeds, called thatch, can form a thick mat that prevents moisture and nutrients from getting down to the roots. If the thatch in your lawn is more than ½-inch thick, consider renting a power dethatching machine to pull up a lot of that accumulation.

Repair Unattractive Patches

Unattractive bare patches can have a number of causes. Lots of traffic will kill the grass. If that's the cause, these areas can be fixed by spreading some soil mixed with grass seed then keeping the soil moist for a week or 10 days. The grass seed will germinate in the fall and be growing beautifully next spring.

Low areas usually have poor drainage and sparse looking grass. Fill in smaller low areas yourself with a mixture of top soil and seed. Larger areas are best left to a professional landscaper with the proper equipment.

Trim and Feed the Grass

Before the frost arrives, cut your grass one final time after lowering the blade on your mower to cut it a little shorter than normal. Longer grass provides a great growing environment for fungus. After its final cut, feed your lawn with a good fertilizer. Fall fertilizers help give a lawn strong roots and winter endurance, and encourage early growth in the spring. Since the proper ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium depends on where you live, ask your local home garden center or nursery what they recommend for your area.

If you want to be more organic in your choice of lawn fertilizer, mow your lawn as the leaves fall and just leave the shredded leaves on your lawn. Be careful doing this however, since leaving too many leaves on your lawn can actually block out sunshine and damage the grass.

Maintain Your Lawn Equipment

Drain and put away your garden hoses, store any lawn chemicals safely away, winterize your lawn mower and clean your lawn clippers and edgers.

Now, it's time to say "enough," then sit back and look forward to next year's lush, green lawn.