Winter Yard Care
As winter goes on and we see grass and other plants becoming dry and dormant, it’s tempting to take some time away from the demands of lawn maintenance. The bad news (it’s not that bad) is that yards still need care during this period. The good news is just a few relatively simple tasks will make a big difference for the health of your lawn. Here are our suggestions.
Clean Downspouts and Gutters
Exposed gutters fill with debris year-round, and fall is the season when the most branches, leaves, birds’ nests, and the like collect. Gutter systems are supposed to channel water toward specific areas and away from others; clogs can defeat the purpose of having them. Water that’s supposed to be directed away may pool on your lawn, where it can drown dormant grass or freeze, damaging roots.
Watch Your Step
The low moisture content of dormant grass renders blades brittle. Try to minimize walking, driving, and recreation on your lawn, or confine those activities to certain areas. Pathways help, if your landscape can accommodate them.
Monitor Your Sprinkler System
Many homeowners in cold climates turn their irrigation system off completely between November and February. Those of us down south may find that our mild winters permit watering all year long. However, the fact that our sprinkler’s pipes won’t freeze doesn’t change the fact that dormant grass won’t absorb as much water. If you’re going to leave your sprinkler on, be sure to adjust its settings as conditions change. For example, when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, you shouldn’t water at all. There’s an easy decision rule: In the morning, if you see frost has formed on the ground overnight, don’t water that day.
Discourage Uninvited Visitors
Another effect of our relatively mild winters is the continued availability of at least some sustenance for wildlife. However, while deer, rabbits, mice, and other critters may have it tougher in other parts of the country, they won’t turn up their noses if food is easily accessible in your yard. Common precautions to protect perennials, shrubs, and trees include motion-activated sprinklers and lights, along with chemical repellants and physical barriers like fences.As these tips show, homeowners can take winters off, but at a price. Fortunately, it takes only a moderate amount of effort to keep your lawn safe, healthy, and ready to return to its full glory in the spring.