Winter Lawn Prep Tips

Is your landscape ready to weather winter precipitation?

The time to prepare your landscape for the potential wet wonderland this year is right now, before the first rains and freezes.  Taking wet winter precautions will promote a beautiful yard once spring rolls around again.

The key to helping your lawn weather a wet winter is proper drainage.  Chances are your landscape was properly graded, sloping away from your home when it was initially installed.  Still, be sure to look out for standing water and take note of how water is flowing across your property.  A licensed landscape contractor can help design and install proper drainage if needed.  Also, keep drain swales and inlets (for water runoff) clear of debris.  Sal Perez, owner/partner of Signature Landscapes explains how to keep drains free of debris: watch video.

Water Puddle on Pavers

Backup of trapped water due to improper drainage

Remove leaves and debris now; don’t wait for all of the leaves to fall.  Keeping your lawn and planter beds free of debris will help prevent moisture retention that can create fungal disease conditions, smother the grass and attract pests.  Now is also a good time to contact an arborist to prep your trees for a wet winter.  Saturated or snow laden branches may break and cause damage to your home, vehicle or nearby powerlines.

Limit tracking over your lawn to avoid rutting and displacing your grass.  Otherwise, you may face dead spots or grass that is thinner than the rest of the yard.  Heavily worn traffic patterns will be slower to green in the spring.  Additionally, frequently trudging over your lawn during a wet winter may cause compaction.

Aerate your lawn to avoid compaction and allow for better absorption of water.  Yes, plants need water, but they also need oxygen.  Waterlogged lawns and plants can drown.  A properly aerated yard allows your lawn to receive oxygen and nutrients and it may keep your plants from becoming overly saturated and help it recover between storms.

Give your lawn a fighting chance with a winter fertilizer application, which is actually applied during the fall and assists with root development during the winter.  A good winter fertilizer can help your grass and plants better tolerate rough winter conditions and have a shot at holding up to the possible heavy precipitation.  Be sure to test your soil and apply the appropriate winter fertilizer for a green spring.

Lastly, properly winterize your irrigation system.  Irrigation systems are typically winterized by late October, but since Northern Nevada’s often has temperamental climate changes, keep an eye on the weather and winterize before soil temps drop below 50 degrees.  Also, there’s more to it than just switching off your sprinkler controller.  Consult a landscape professional to ensure that your irrigation system is free of leaks and has properly been winterized.

The good news is that turf is very resilient and in wintertime many plants are still dormant, which makes them more forgiving of saturated soil.  Also, the fungal organisms that cause rot are not as active when the soil is cool.

Still, there is risk that an extremely wet and cold winter can damage your landscape despite taking all of the right precautions.  Not to despair, just work with a landscape professional to recover your lush lawn in the spring.