As the Tri-Cities and surrounding regions head into the beautiful autumn days of what we call our Indian Summer, it’s time to think about preparing our grass lawns, planting beds, and outdoor areas for the coming cold. With the winter season approaching, there are several steps you can take to help your yard and trees make it out of the cold and into the spring next March. Infrequently do we experience mild enough winters to allow the grass to stay green for months, so we need to be ready for it.
In our climate, it’s important to keep the ever-falling leaves raked during the fall weather. If snowfall covers a bed of leaves and remains for any length of time, it will suffocate the grass and leave it molding and dying underneath. After raking, mow your lawn to ready it for fertilizer and seed. Fertilizing your lawn will help provide the nutrients it needs throughout the winter.
Autumn is also the perfect time in our region to overseed. You can spread seed on thin areas of grass, or you can purchase a blend of fertilizer, compost, and seed. The warm sun during the days and cooler temperatures at night are perfect for growing new seed. This will help fill in sparse areas of the lawn. Overseeding will significantly combat crabgrass and dandelions when the spring arrives. These nasty weeds love to infiltrate bare patches that can be found in your lawn. You will need to be able to water after overseeding, so it’s best to complete this task before sprinkler system winterization takes place. Keeping the grass green and healthy going into the winter will prove the best defense to unsightly weeds in the spring.
When you feed the lawn this last time for the year, this also signals the time to pull your annuals from the beds. It’s important to rid the lawn of these dead plants as they can play host to insects that can be detrimental to your lawn and garden come spring. If you have perennials that you intend to protect through the winter, put some mulch at the base of the plants. Manure or other nutrients can be added to the mulch at this time.
Trimming and Pruning
Some of your shrubs and trees can be trimmed at this time as well. As different varieties commonly grown in our area should be pruned at different times, it’s best to check with staff at a local nursery to query which trees and shrubs are best trimmed in the fall. If the trees are new or particularly susceptible to the freezes that are sure to come, you can build makeshift screens from protective materials and stake that around the plants.
In October and early November, (hopefully before a deep freeze) it’s time to shut off your sprinkler system. You can either blow out the lines yourself with an air compressor or have professionals come to blow out the lines on your behalf. This is an important step, because if the lines underground were to break, they would be expensive to fix.
All Said and Done
Once winterizing is complete, it’s time to tuck in, enjoy the crackling fire, warm drinks, and enjoy the beauty that the winter season brings. You’ll rest easy knowing that your lawn will be the envy of your neighborhood when March brings warmth back to the Tri-Cities.