After a long summer drought will we get a cold, wet, miserable winter again this year? Now that leaves are falling what are you going to do this year with your last chance to have a great lawn next year? Let’s follow the lawn trail and find out.
If you have not fertilized your lawn this fall please do so now. In New Jersey, homeowners can fertilize their lawns until November 15th but not again until March 1st next spring. If you have fed your lawn once this fall, do it again with a Winter Survival. The fertilizer will promote a thick, healthy root system and green growth will continue into the cold winter weather. Your lawn will green up next spring too, even before you get out and fertilize. This late feeding will hopefully help you avoid snow mold damage too.
Be sure to continue to mow your lawn until it stops growing. Each week you can gradually reduce the mowing height a half inch but mow no lower than 1-1/2 inches as your final cut. This helps to reduce any large amounts of green foliage that could make your lawn more susceptible to snow mold. Once you are finished using your mower, be sure to properly “winterize” it before storing it in the shed or garage. Your mower will appreciate this extra effort and so will you next spring when you try to start it up again. Change the oil, sharpen the blade and clean the housing. Be careful and if you are not comfortable with working on your mower, hire a professional lawn mower repair shop for these tasks.
Clean off the leaves from lawn areas as quickly as possible in order to avoid leaf cover killing the grass. Removing leaves also allows sunlight to get to the grass plants continuing growth. Excessive leaf cover could also contribute to snow mold problems during winter months. If leaf cover is not too severe, you could mulch the leaves right into the ground. If you have had a history of snow mold damage, applying a lawn fungicide labeled to prevent snow mold at this time can be helpful too.
During colder months many times I am asked, “Is it too late to apply grass seed?” It is never too late to apply grass seed, what you need to have is realistic expectations if and when the grass seed will grow. I have seen a lot of successful late fall seeding, but the limiting factor is the weather. I am not very good at predicting how cold it will get and when. While the soil is still somewhat warm, the air temperature may slow or stop grass seed growth if it is consistently less than 50 degrees. My real answer to this question is, “Why didn’t you seed in early fall?” What about snow seeding? Yes, this is a viable option, usually done in the middle of winter to insure that the seed does not germinate. Using Touch Up which is 100% Perennial Ryegrass is best. Take a hand crank spreader and seed right over the snow cover. The seed will germinate in spring when weather permits.
So how did your lawn do this year after the severe summer drought? Where you able to water enough, did you get tired of watering or paying the water bill? Did you burn your lawn this past summer because you tried to feed it to a green color when it was dormant or under stress? Did fungus take your whole lawn out? Did your lawn come back this fall after the hot, dry weather went away and rainfall finally arrived? Grub damage did not seem so severe since they need a certain amount of moisture to reproduce vigorously. If your lawn survived this severe summer that is a good sign, a sign that you have been taking measures to keep your lawn it strong and healthy in order to face whatever Mother Nature sends our way. Happy Thanksgiving!