We may not be expecting a white holiday season in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area, but winter is still not a season to be taken lightly. DFW winter weather is unpredictably unique. Freezes can be quickly followed by pleasant temperatures in the 60s and 70s after just a couple days. If you're new to the DFW area or new to taking care of a yard, this weather can make lawn care a bit challenging.
For any beginners looking for a reliable winter lawn care schedule, the best time to start is actually in the fall.
Preparing for winter weather by treating your yard in the fall is the best way to create a lush lawn come spring.
Then once winter has arrived, you may be tempted to sit back and ignore the grass for a few months, but your yard will still require some care. Follow our simple tips below, and your lawn will be ready to thrive when spring appears.
Prepare in the autumn
Before your grass goes to sleep during the winter, the best thing you can do is tuck it in properly in the fall. Autumn is an excellent time to up your lawn maintenance game. After the harsh summer and before the rough winter, your yard needs some extra care.
Not to mention that if you’re planning on doing all your lawn care yourself, then the weather couldn’t be better for some outdoor time! Whether you’re planning on tackling the yard yourself or planning on working with a lawn care company this fall, be sure to cover these bases…
The process of aeration opens the ground in your lawn to make it easier for your yard to breathe, recover from summer stress, and take in food. Providing your lawn with an aeration treatment in the fall makes your grass system more open and able to absorb nutrients and food.
If you aerate before a fall fertilizer treatment, the root system will be able to take in the optimal amount of nutrients. Then the roots will circulate them throughout the root system all through fall and winter.
Fall is an ideal time to fertilize your lawn. The grass roots will absorb and store the nutrients from the fertilizer. As the weather gets colder and your grass becomes dormant, the nutrients will be locked in. Then over the winter months, the stored food will slowly and gradually continue to spread through your root system.
Fall Pre-emergent Weed Control
During the winter, your grass will become dormant, or go to sleep (so to speak). It is quite common for weeds to germinate and spread while your grass sleeps.
Even if you can't see the weeds yet, they could be lurking beneath the surface and take over by spring.
Have a lawn care company use a fall pre-emergent weed control product during the fall to avoid weeds taking over by spring.
Check out our complete fall lawn care guide for Dallas Fort Worth area to get your yard perfectly prepared for winter.
6 tips to keep your lawn healthy through winter
1. Clean Up
We know winter is a season when many a yard is stuffed with giant blow-ups, strings of lights, large candy canes, and other holiday decorations. We love holiday décor too! However, you may want to consider the adverse effects of these charming decorations.
Leaving any items on dormant winter grass can cause a lot of damage. This includes any lawn care equipment, toys, and holiday decorations. Grass requires sunlight, water, and nutrients to live. If you leave items out on the lawn, your grass will be blocked off from any access to what it requires to thrive.
During the winter, while your grass is dormant, it will need all the access it can get to what little sun, water, and food is available. Items left out can lead to areas of dead grass, leaving your yard looking patchy and sub-par come spring.
All during winter, you should also address any organic items sitting out in your yard. If any dead branches or leaves fall on your property, you should clear them as soon as possible. Be especially cautious about leaves. Small areas of leaves can be harmless.
However, if your yard is left blanketed by leaves, you could be in considerable trouble by spring. A blanket of leaves blocks your grass's access to nutrients, and can quickly cause widespread damage.
2. Stay off the lawn
Although winter is a fun time to be outside and enjoy the cooler weather, be cautious about how much foot traffic you allow on your grass. Light activity is generally alright, but too much can cause significant damage.
Your grass is dormant during the winter, which means it is no longer growing normally. If you spend a lot of time on your lawn, it will not be able to recover and heal as well as it would in other seasons. Putting a lot of pressure down on your yard can also compact the grass leading to damage that you’ll have to spend time and money fixing in the spring.
It is especially important to avoid walking on your lawn when there is frost on it. When a frost comes, your grass freezes completely. While your yard is frozen, any activity on it will cause the blades of grass to break. This causes extensive internal and external damage to your grass blades that most likely won't be able to heal till spring comes.
3. Keep salt away
Although snow is rather infrequent in the DFW area, you're likely to encounter ice and freezing problems during the winter. Naturally, it's not safe to have icy conditions on the road or on your driveway - and so we add salt! Salt is great for driving, but not so great for your grass.
Try to use minimal salt near your lawn. It's okay if you need to salt your driveway, but be careful as you apply it near the edges touching your grass. The runoff from your driveway may still be a problem, but the damage will be significantly less if you're careful in your application.
The problem is that when your soil is exposed to salt, it absorbs the sodium and chloride of the salt, and havoc ensues.
In areas like DFW, where the soil content is clay-based, the soil absorbs the salt and is less able to filter it out. The internal makeup of the soil and grass blades is negatively affected, most often leading to the grass dying.
Although you can't avoid what happens on the streets, if you have to salt your driveway, there is an alternative to sodium chloride salt that is less harmful. We say less harmful because no salt is good for your grass, but you will be better off.
Try a magnesium chloride salt mixture. Magnesium salt is less likely to kill your lawn, but it is more expensive than old fashioned sodium chloride mixtures.
A cheaper and still effective solution is adding gypsum to your soil in the affected areas. The gypsum will improve the water flow through clay-based soils and help flow the salt out of the soil faster.
4. Add mulch to your landscape
Adding mulch to your landscape not only beautifies your property, but it also has some fantastic winter benefits. Spreading mulch covers the soil and protects plant roots from harsh cold weather.
If you leave your soil uncovered and unprotected, freezing weather can harm the plant’s root system. Adding mulch shields the soil and helps to maintain a steady, stable underground temperature for your roots.
5. Winter watering schedule
In the winter months, the DFW area averages around 2.5 inches of precipitation each month. Whether that precipitation arrives as rain, sleet, or snow, it is enough to keep your grass hydrated and healthy.
When grass is dormant, it stops the normal growth process. This means that your yard will require very little water.
If your grass has stopped growing, the occasional rain should provide enough moisture. If your grass still appears to be growing, then it has not entered the dormant state.
This means that it will still require about ½ inch of water each week. Keep an eye on the weather to ensure your lawn is receiving that ½ inch of water naturally. If it has been extra dry out for a while, then you may need to bust out the sprinklers to make sure your grass gets the half-inch of water it needs.
6. Mowing in the winter
As winter approaches, you should lower your mower blades slightly to get a nice low cut before the grass goes dormant. You'll want the grass to be about 2.5 inches tall. Mowing too low can overexpose your soil to the severe winter freezes, so be cautious with the mower blade setting that you choose.
Once your grass has stopped growing, it is in a dormant state. Congratulations! You can officially pack away your mower till the growth begins again.
Alternatively, if your lawn is still growing, then you will need to continue mowing. You want to avoid the grass getting too long during winter because it can become matted during the cold weather causing some mild damage. To put it simply - if it's growing, keep mowing!
If you'd rather relax and enjoy a hot toddy instead of taking care of the lawn this winter season – call Gecko Green! While we can't provide you with the hot toddy, we can provide you with the best year-round lawn care in the business.
Our lawn care specialists are knowledgeable experts that treat our customers like family. So if you want to look forward to a green spring, then the time is now to call Gecko Green!