We know no one wants to hear the dreaded “w” word, but the truth is, cold weather is heading our way. While we have several glorious weeks of fall ahead, our lawn care team at Go Greener wants to make sure your lawn is prepped for the unpredictable winters in Michigan.
In today’s blog post we are sharing everything you need to do to prepare your lawn successfully for fall and winter. But before we dig in, you’re probably wondering WHY you need to spend time caring for your lawn at this time of year – especially when there is so much football to watch!
Why You Need to Prepare Your Lawn for Fall & Winter
- Harsh winters can wreak havoc on lawns that are not properly prepared. Imagine underfed, under watered, and unmanaged grass trying to survive under piles of snow. Instead of being strong and equipped for the arduous Michigan winters, your grass will be weak and unprepared.
- If lawns are not adequately prepared for our winters, in the spring, lawns can have trouble reaching their full potential. You will have to battle a frail lawn for the rest of the year.
- Putting a little effort or money behind preparing your lawn for fall and winter will save you time and money in the spring. Instead of replanting, you can spend your time doing normal lawn maintenance.
Maintain: Mow, Water, Feed
Mowing, watering, and feeding your lawn adequately in the fall is extremely important if you want your lawn to thrive next spring.
In the fall, you want to make sure that you continue to mow as usual, but when you near the last few mowing sessions, lower your blade. Growth slows down during this time of year, so you want to adjust how much of the grass you are cutting.
Our recommendation is to cut only the top ⅓ of the grass. Any more than that and you will shock your grass. By doing this, you will help prevent snow mold in the spring. If you’re curious when you can stop mowing, we recommend waiting until your lawn is consistently 1.5” long. That is the healthiest length to leave your lawn for the winter.
When it comes to watering during the fall season, you will want to water your lawn for 48 minutes per week. This way, your lawn will be properly hydrated for the harsh, cold Michigan winters that we enjoy. Keep watering your lawn until late September or early October.
Even though we aren’t in the midst of summer when your lawn grows the most, your grass still needs nutrients. In fact, this is the time to make up for any damage that occurred over the summer. Our recommendation is to use a combination feed approach at this time of year.
After the harsh elements of summer, it’s best to use a 20-8-8 formula in September (20=Nitrogen for blade growth, 8=phosphorus for root health, 8=potassium for cell function). This gives the lawn a much-needed dose of nutrients to stimulate growth. At the end of October/early November, a 13-25-12 formula is ideal to give the roots an extra boost before winter sets in.
Prepare: Aerate & Rake
Aerating and raking can help your lawn breathe and soak up the final dose of nutrients you give it.
Aeration will loosen the soil and allow it to breathe. This is important because thatch (a layer of dead and living grass shoots, stems, and roots that shows up between the soil and the grass blades in your lawn) and foot traffic tend to compact the soil. As a result, the soil and roots are easily cut off from much-needed oxygen and nutrients.
We typically recommend that lawns are aerated in late September. Our goal? To promote a strong root system by allowing more nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach the roots of your grass.
Known as one of the standard fall activities in Michigan, raking is an essential part of caring for your lawn. If you’re using a mulching mower, your grass clippings will not need to be raked after every cut because they are chopped into fine enough particles that they won’t hurt your lawn. However, if there is a dense layer of clippings left after you mow, you will want to rake. Of course, raking is really important once the leaves have fallen off of your trees.
Feel like skipping raking this year? Please don’t. Dense clippings will block proper air flow to the lawn and roots. Leaves that are left to decompose will steal moisture from the roots and serve as a breeding ground for harmful insects. Not to mention, decomposing leaves can leave bald patches come spring, allowing for weeds to take over. Be sure to rake one final time before it snows and make sure all of the leaves have been removed.
With cold weather slowly creeping up on us, it is time to think about successfully winterizing your lawn. If you prepare accordingly, by the time spring and summer roll around, you will enjoy a beautiful, strong lawn.
If you want a healthy lawn even after the harshest of Michigan winters, follow these recommendations, and you will be well on your way!