Many people think of wintertime as an opportunity to stop paying attention to summertime duties, such as lawn care. However, maintenance of a healthy lawn requires consideration throughout the year, including the cold winter months. Parts of an effective winter upkeep program vary somewhat, depending on the type of grass in a lawn. However, proper upkeep typically includes lawn fertilization, making any necessary adjustments in grass height and avoiding trampling the dormant winter grass.

Most homeowners in America have lawns that contain cool-weather species of grass, such as bluegrass or Bermuda. To make it through the winter, these grasses typically need some type of fertilizer to replace nutrients used up during the hot, stressful summer months. When applied to a lawn at the end of fall or the very beginning of winter, this fertilizer will make its way to the underlying soil and serve as a nutrient source until warmer weather arrives in springtime. Commercially available products used for this purpose include liquid lawn fertilizer concentrate and dry, bagged fertilizer. In warmer regions of the U.S., homeowners may be able to skip this step and keep their lawns green, by overseeding with rye grass.

During winter months, grass left at its summer height can cause several problems when it dies off. Potential problems include smothering of the lawn’s roots; unintended encouragement of diseases that damage grass; and damage caused by animals that burrow in longer grass. Excessively long winter grass also increases risks for damage related to freezing and thawing cycles. To avoid these situations, the homeowner should gradually start cutting his or her grass lower and lower, over the final month of the summer season, and into the fall. However, mowing should not go low enough to expose the crowns of individual grass stems.

While dormant in wintertime, grass is sensitive to compaction caused by foot traffic or other sources of pressure. While homeowners don’t need to entirely avoid walking on their lawns, they should minimize foot traffic and make sure not to overuse any one path or route through the grass. Homeowners should also avoid allowing cars and trucks on their lawns, even if they only park for short periods of time. In addition to damaging the dormant lawn, the pressure from these vehicles will encourage the eventual growth of crabgrass and other unwanted, invasive weed species.

Typically, a winter lawn maintenance program should begin in the fall. In addition to fertilizing and mowing, steps to take during the fall months include raking up all dead leaves and debris, and clearing up toys or anything else that can put smothering pressure on a lawn during the winter months.

While some homeowners enjoy handling their own lawn care needs, others prefer to rely on professional lawn maintenance services that can handle the work for them. In some cases, lawn maintenance companies provide only basic options, like lawn mowing services. In addition to a lawn mowing service, other companies offer complete lawn care programs that incorporate all phases of upkeep. In order to efficiently assess available lawn maintenance services in their area, homeowners can consult online businesses that compare these services and which can lead consumers to cost-effective options that meet their needs.