You know that having a beautiful lawn requires care and attention in the summer. But do you know how to properly maintain your lawn in the winter, too? Many factors affect the health and strength of your grass during this dormant season, too.
Learn how to maintain the best grass height for winter so you can keep your turf looking good all year long. With the right care, conditions will be right for a lush, green lawn when spring rolls around again.
Grass height for winter
For starters, cutting back grasses for the winter is important for the care of the grass. Northern grasses, including the types grown in Northeastern Ohio, shouldn’t be left long during the cold, snowy winter months. Leaving grass long provides a meal for insects and small animals, such as voles, who feed on grass under snow cover during the winter season. It also puts your lawn at risk of disease, providing an opportune place for mold and bacteria to take over.
To preserve the health of your lawn, keep mowing until the grass is dormant. Then you give your grass a break from cuts as you prepare it for the long winter months.
Short or long grass for winter?
It’s important to choose the right grass height for winter. An improper cut can cause stress to the plant. If it’s too short, the cold weather can stress or damage the roots or leaves. If it’s too long, the grass is at risk for disease such as snow mold.
Snow mold is caused by excessive water, thatch, debris, and leaves, all of which keep the grass overly wet. The cold and damp then provides a breeding ground for disease. Cut your grasses back for winter to avoid contributing to these conditions, and make sure to also clear out extra leaves and debris before the snow starts to fly.
Does grass grow in winter?
Grass does grow in the winter season if temperatures are right. Before deciding on the height you’ll cut your grass, you need to determine whether your lawn is still growing. Grass will keep growing if the daytime temperatures stay above 55 degrees during the day. When winter truly settles in and the daytime temperatures stop rising above 50 degrees, the grass will slow down and stop growing.
The best grass height for winter
The ideal grass height for the winter season is between 2” and 2.5”. This keeps the grass short enough to resist the spread of disease, but not so short that it becomes overly stressed by cold temperatures.
As temperatures decrease and growth slows down, you can gradually reduce the height of your blades when mowing until they reach this optimal length. Make sure the last few trims of the fall season are at this short height. You can end mowing for the season when the first frost arrives.
How to keep grass green in winter
Once you’ve fine-tuned the proper height to cut your grass for winter, you may wonder whether you should provide your grass food for winter, too. After all, the extreme weather conditions winter can bring can take a toll on grass. But since lawns go dormant when the freezing cold temperatures arrive, it’s best to do your prep before that happens.
Fall is the best time to fertilize grass, because the plant is actively growing its root system, making it a peak growing season. To keep grass green and healthy in winter, fertilize it in the fall. A little advance treatment will help your lawn maintain its color and vibrancy until growing season begins again in the spring.
The best grass fertilizer for winter
Applying a winter fertilizer in the fall is appropriate for cool-season grasses such as fescue or bluegrass, but warm-season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia do better with a spring fertilizer. You can put down a winterizer in November for cool-season grasses and pick back up with fertilizing in the spring when temps start to rise again and the root system resumes growth.
Proper care, feeding, and cutting of your grasses for the winter will ensure you maintain a lush and healthy lawn all year long. For more details on winter lawn care or to sign up for a lawn care package where we do the work for you, contact Grass Master today.