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How to prepare your Lake Norman Lawn for Winter

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How To Prepare Your Lawn For Winter
By: James Witts

Preparing for a Lake Norman Real Estate winter isn’t just about sealing up the house and making sure to stock your fireplace with kindling. Your lawn also needs some tender love and care to make sure it’s in tip-top shape for colder weather.

Although North Carolina Real Estate winters tend to be milder than in other parts of the country, you still need to be vigilant about preparing your lawn for the colder months ahead.

1. Know your grass type
The first and most important step in winterizing your lawn is awareness of what kind of grass you have. While both warm- and cool-season grasses benefit from some extra attention this time of the year, knowing your specific type of grass is crucial for knowing which actions are necessary to prepare them for winter.

Cool-season grasses, such as fescue or Kentucky bluegrass, grow best in the fall and need fertilizer at this time. Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda or zoysia, must be treated differently, and typically go dormant during the winter months. It would be best if you avoided fertilizing these grasses because they will put on new growth that can be damaged by a hard freeze. Do some research on your specific grass type before engaging in any fall or winter lawn care.

2. Fertilize – when appropriate
Again, make sure you are only fertilizing your cool-season grasses, and not your warm-season blends, in the fall. To fertilize cool-season grasses, make the following considerations.

Many people add nitrogen in the fall, but this is not an ideal fertilizer for a huge reason. Nitrogen encourages growth, so applying nitrogen-based fertilizers in the fall can increase the amount of winter damage and disease your grass acquires. Instead, it would help if you fertilized with potassium (or potash). Using potassium will increase your plants’ winter hardiness, and make them more tolerant to disease and drought. Most sandy soils in North Carolina are also deficient in potassium, and it’s easy for it to leach away.

3. Raise the height of your mower
To help your lawn store the energy it needs for winter, you should raise the height of your lawn mower about half an inch in mid-September. While the exact height of your grass will vary depending on your grass type, you should generally aim for about an inch for grasses like Bermuda and three inches for varieties like St. Augustine.

You only need to mow about once every two weeks until all of the leaves have fallen. Once the trees are free of leaves, you don’t need to worry about them smothering the leaves, and in some cases, you may be able to stop mowing altogether.

4. Cut back on irrigation
Now is also the time to cut back on the amount of water you are giving your lawn. Your grass needs less water as temperatures cool and the daylight hours wane. In most cases, rainfall will be adequate, as you only need about half an inch of water per week in the fall. You do not need to irrigate at all during the winter unless there is extreme drought. If your area experiences regular freezes, make sure you also disable and detach any sprinklers or hoses to prevent breaking.

5. Tend to any weeds
Winter weeds can be eliminated or at least minimized by applying pre-emergent herbicides in the early fall. The perfect herbicide will vary depending on your grass type, as well as the types of weeds to which you are prone.

6. Amp up the compost
Fall is an excellent time to reevaluate your compost pile. In the fall, you likely need to clean up your lawn to rid it from leaves, branches, and other debris. Cleaning up this debris will provide the perfect amount of “brown” components for your hungry compost. Make sure you turn your compost every week during the winter as well.

7. Prevent Pests
Fall is an optimal time to prevent any insects from overwintering in your lawn. You can apply an insecticide in the fall to reduce the likelihood of infestation, but keep in mind that general lawn hygiene, such as removing any debris or standing water from your lawn, is an excellent preventative practice, too.

Fall is also a good time to prevent mosquitoes. These pests breed when temperatures hover around fifty degrees, which in some parts of the state, means much of the winter. If you have active breeding grounds on your property, such as rainwater barrels or bird baths, these are optimal places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Make sure these are drained, and consider applying an insecticide, to reduce their presence next summer.

8. Prep your equipment for next year
Finally, think about your long-term plan when you are preparing your lawn for the winter. Mark out areas on your yard where you don’t want people to plow snow, park a car, or walk. Marking these spots can cause soil compression and will create problems once the weather warms.

You also need to tend to any equipment, including snow blowers, plows, shovels, or rakes to make sure they are in good working order before winter arrives. Drain your lawn mower of gas to prevent rust formation, and sharpen all gardening tools before storing them well out of the way of any inclement weather.

James Witts is an eco-conscious home improvement writer.

The Martin Real Estate Team of Lake Norman advocates to providing information that can help the home owner or seller in any way possible.  This is why we enjoy publishing blog posts about “Home Health-Care” and much much more.

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