Preparing Your Texas Lawn for Winter
While winters in Texas aren’t as severe as those in the northern states, seasonal changes can still be tough on the landscape. As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, it’s essential to take steps to prepare your Texas lawn for the cold months ahead. By giving your lawn the proper care in fall, you’ll be setting it up for a healthy and vibrant return in spring.
Mowing the Right Way
In late fall, gradually lower the cutting base of your lawn mower each time you mow the grass. By the time of your last mowing session, you should be cutting the grass at a shorter height than during the summer. This helps the grass avoid matting under snow or wet conditions, which can lead to fungal diseases. However, be cautious not to trim it too short, as this can expose the grass’s crown to harsh winter conditions.
Aerating your lawn allows it to breathe, ensuring that water, oxygen, and nutrients reach the grass roots. It’s best to aerate the lawn in the fall for cool-season grasses and in the late spring for warm-season grasses. You can either use spike aerators, which push spikes into the ground, or plug aerators, which remove plugs of soil. The latter is more effective as it reduces soil compaction.
Fall is an excellent time for fertilization, especially if your lawn is composed of cool-season grasses. The grass will store the nutrients from the fertilizer, using them to grow and repair during winter. For Texas lawns, a slow-release granular fertilizer with a balanced N-P-K ratio is typically recommended. Ensure you read the label to apply the right quantity and avoid burning the grass.
Even though your lawn’s growth rate might slow down during the cooler months, it still requires moisture to remain healthy. Watering in the morning gives the lawn ample time to absorb the moisture before the colder night temperatures set in. Once the ground starts freezing, it’s time to stop watering altogether.
Fall is the perfect time to address any weed problems. Broadleaf weeds, like dandelions, can be spot-treated with a post-emergent herbicide. Ensure that you choose a herbicide safe for your grass type and always follow label directions. Weeds are easier to combat in the fall because they’re in the energy-absorbing mode, taking in nutrients and storing them in their roots. This means they’ll also take in herbicides more effectively, leading to better control.
Addressing Bare Spots:
The fall season is a good time to address any bare or thin patches in your lawn. For cool-season grasses, you can reseed these patches in early fall. For warm-season grasses, you might need to wait until spring. Before reseeding, ensure you rake the area lightly, removing any dead grass and debris. This ensures that the seeds make proper contact with the soil.
Instead of raking and bagging all the fallen leaves, consider mulching them with your lawnmower. When shredded into small pieces, these leaves decompose and act as a natural fertilizer for the lawn. They add organic matter to the soil and provide essential nutrients. If you choose to rake, consider using the leaves as compost or mulch in garden beds.
Protecting from Frost and Freeze:
Frost and freeze can damage the grass, especially warm-season varieties. While there’s not much one can do about the weather, avoid walking on frost-covered lawns. Walking on a frosty lawn can break the grass blades, causing damage that can be seen once the lawn thaws.
As the mowing season wraps up, ensure your equipment is ready for storage. Clean the mower blades, change the oil, and replace the spark plugs. This routine maintenance ensures that your mower is in optimal condition when spring arrives.
Pay Attention to Trees and Shrubs:
While the focus here is on the lawn, don’t forget about your trees and shrubs. They also need care to get through the winter. Prune any dead or damaged limbs and consider wrapping young trees or shrubs to protect them from windburn or potential frost damage.
Preparing your Texas lawn for winter might seem like a lot of work, but these steps are crucial for ensuring the health and vitality of your landscape. By investing time and effort in the fall, you’re not only protecting your lawn from potential winter damage but also setting the stage for a lush, green spring. You may also like our 5 tips on preparing your lawn for winter. If you need help with a more green, healthy law, contact us today 469-344-9619.