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Help Your Lawn Survive The Winter

Fergal Carr
Wikimedia Commons

Fall’s the time to start preparing your lawn to survive the  winter and thrive next spring. KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton offer tips on how to get a stronger grass lawn.Autumn is the time to start training lawns for the winter.  Training the lawn now will help it next season, too.   

Unfortunately water has become a battle between conservation and capitalism.  We do live in an arid desert and drought is here.  But water providers only make money if we’re using water.  So what’s a gardener to do?  Get out the hose and pay for the water.  Or learn to conserve and keep water in the reservoirs. 

Lawns benefit from fall aeration and fertilization.  Aeration is most effective if the soil is moist.  Take advantage of a rain, if we get any, to soften up the soil.  Aerate after the storm.  Don’t try to aerate if the soil is dry.  That will only beat up the person aerating and do more damage to the grass.

Aeration will be most beneficial followed by a thorough watering.  Watering once a week is enough.  Watering after aerating lets the moisture penetrate deeper.  The water also breaks down the cores of soil, which add nutrients to the grass. 

Fall fertilization on lawns won’t show any immediate benefit.  But the lawn will respond to the fertilizer next spring.  Use a slow release, winterizing fertilizer.  They last longer in the soil. 

Organic fertilizer on a mostly green cool season grass will promote fall and spring root growth. Time your fertilization before a storm or water in the fertilizer.  Without additional water the benefits of fall fertilization are minimized.

Keep bluegrass lawns at least two to three inches long.  The longer blades shade the soil and conserve moisture.  At your last mowing cut the grass a little shorter.  Short grass lessens the chance of getting molds if we do get any winter snows. 

Warms season grass like Buffalo grass will turn brown after the first frost.  That’s time to cut off the water and let it be.  Cool season grass like Bluegrass loves cool days and nights.  The cooler the weather the less water the grass needs.

Fall lawn care will help you lawn survive the winter.  It will also help it thrive next spring.


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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