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How to Winterize Your Lawn for Frost and Snow

Uncover the strategies that lawn care experts use to protect a healthy lawn as winter approaches. With the well-being of your lawn playing a pivotal role in your home's outdoor appeal, understanding the ins and outs of winter lawn care is more crucial than ever. Whether you're considering professional assistance or simply seeking insights, delve into the meticulous techniques professionals apply to protect and nurture lawn grass and soil during the colder months.

1. Prep Your Lawn

Get ahead of the game by allowing professionals to prep your lawn before the cold weather sets in. Many homeowners must start early when winterizing their properties. A good winter lawn treatment ensures ample protection during the cold months and healthy growth in the following season. Follow these tips for a fool-proof winter preparation.


The first step toward winterizing your lawn involves firing up the lawn mower. Giving the grass a fresh trim allows new growth to receive sunlight. Established winter lawn care professionals never cut the grass blades too low because the lawn would experience winter stress. They will cut warm-season grass to a height of 1.5 to 2 inches. Cool-season grass can stay at a length of 2.5 inches.


Aerating improves the soil quality. Aerators dig up the topsoil, preventing soil compaction and thatch buildup. The process promotes strong roots by supplying them with extra water and nutrients. The experts use either an automatic or a manual push aerator.


As the seasons change, so does the irrigation plan for the lawn. Lawns require less watering in winter because the evaporation rate falls and the plants go dormant. Yards with a sprinkler system can reduce watering time by half. Check the soil first and water the lawn only if the ground seems dry. Irrigate when daytime temperatures become warmer to avoid ice formation.

2. Apply Winter Fertilizer

Winter fertilizers supply the right amount of nutrients to the grass, keeping the turf strong even in the cold weather. Choosing the right winter fertilizer to nourish the soil requires a practical winter lawn care approach based on testing and in-depth product knowledge.

Choose the Right Fertilizer

For best results, lawn professionals sometimes take a soil test and select a winter fertilizer with the right balance of nutrients to strengthen the roots. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium make up the essential nutrients list. Feeding too much nitrogen to the lawn leads to disproportionate top growth in winter. Experts often choose a slow-release fertilizer that replenishes the soil throughout the dormant winter months.

How to Apply Fertilizer

Applying fertilizer right before the first frost will give the roots enough time to fight the cold. The experts like to spread the fertilizer evenly over the lawn sometime between late October and early December. Then, they water lightly afterward so the soil can take in the nutrients.

3. Control the Weeds

Weeds seem to come as a package deal with cool-season grasses. Although weed infestation often occurs in the warmer months, some persistent ones will continue to cause trouble until the first snowfall. Find out the best methods to deal with pesky perennial weeds below.

Preventive Measures

Weeds, like grass, require suitable conditions to grow. Depriving weeds of these conditions kills them. In early fall, lawn pros incorporate pre-emergent herbicides into the soil to minimize the impact of winter weed seeds. Pre-emergent herbicides stop the weeds from germinating roots. Adding mulch over the lawn blocks sunlight and prevents the weeds from taking root.

Manual Removal

Some weeds have stubborn, long roots that refuse to die even with herbicides or mulching. Take a walk on the lawn on mild winter days and spot emerging weeds on the grass. Lawn care specialists will often pull the weeds by hand, removing the entire root to thwart regrowth.

Regular Upkeep

Good lawn care practices in winter will benefit homeowners. Some resilient weed varieties can grow and thrive despite the cold temperatures. You should cut the grass regularly with a lawn mower to prevent weeds from growing under the shade of tall grasses.

4. Prevent Pest Infestations

While some pests tend to die off during the winter, others look to hibernate in a warm winter area. A significant step toward stopping pest infestations involves preventive measures. Check the lawn for signs of pest activity now and then.

Experts practice common pest control measures like mowing the lawn regularly, removing dead grass, and checking the moisture in the soil. Warm ground will attract more insects, so keep an eye out for signs of bugs or vermin near homes and outbuildings. Spreading insecticide over the lawn will also kill pests. Choose a pesticide that does not kill beneficial insects.

5. Spread Cool-Weather Grass Seed

Spread cool-weather grass seed on both warm-season and cool-season lawns. Warm-season grasses tend to hibernate during the winter. Distributing cool-weather grass seeds, like Kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass, over the soil keeps it green throughout the year.

Overseeding a cool-season lawn in winter helps the grass overpower the weeds during germination in spring. The best time to distribute cool-season grasses in the yard occurs in mid-fall.

6. Protect Your Lawn From Frost

Frost damages many lawns across the country during winter. While garden enthusiasts can bring potted plants inside the house at the first signs of ice, grass gets exposed to the elements. Lawn care professionals know several methods to protect delicate grass during the coldest months of the year.

Cover the Plants

Frost kills fragile plants that thrive in mild climates. Wrapping shrubs or covering plants with a burlap sack creates a microclimate underneath that makes the temperatures milder. Planting a cover crop can also protect vulnerable plants from snow and strong winds.

Layer Mulch or Straw

Place mulch around the ground where shrubs grow to cushion them from the excessive cold. The mulch will also help the roots preserve the moisture during the wintertime. Covering the lawn under a thin blanket of straw will also insulate the roots and prevent frost damage.

Remove Snow

Although snow on the lawn is a charming sight, excessive snow will harm the grass. The prolonged snow on the ground will lead to soil compaction and restrict air distribution. Snow mold, a fungal disease, thrives in conditions where the snow blocks out air and sunlight. Remove snow from the lawn often with a snow blower or shovel.

7. Remove Debris

Declutter the lawn in preparation for winter. Put away garden decorations and equipment like hoses and sprinklers. Keeping unnecessary items in the yard during winter causes soil compaction and prevents the soil from breathing.

Remove fallen leaves and tree branches from the lawn so water and fertilizers can reach the roots. Wet leaves and other decaying organic matter create a breeding ground for pests.

8. Preserve Your Tools

Lawn care professionals know how important it is to take care of your tools, especially expensive equipment like a lawn mower or edger. When winter comes, there are several steps that homeowners can take to protect their tools.

Wash and Clean Tools

Remove all dirt from garden equipment before storing them away. Ensure caked mud, dry grass clippings, and crud come off tools so they do not rust under storage. Perform a thorough cleaning with wire brushes, compressed air, or scrapers.

Empty Fuel Tanks

Fuel that remains in garden machinery, like a lawn mower or weed whacker, during winter may impact the equipment’s efficiency. Drain the fuel and oil, or add an oil stabilizer to prevent clogged engines.

Change Oil and Lubricate

Lubricate joints, bearings, and hinges of garden equipment so they can function smoothly and stay rust-free. Garden equipment used all summer long to trim grass and cut shrubs also needs an oil change at the end of the season. The oil change will prolong the equipment parts.

Ensure Proper Storage

After ensuring the garden tools receive the best care and attention, store the equipment in a cool, dry place. Garages or sheds represent a home’s most suitable places for winter storage. For added protection, wrap the equipment in tarps to keep out moisture and grime.

9. Shut Down Your Irrigation System

Keep your irrigation system from freezing over by shutting it down like a professional. Any water left in the pipes of an irrigation system will freeze when the snow comes. Frozen pipes are more likely to crack, requiring a replacement. See how the experts close down an irrigation system.

Shut Off the Water Supply

The first step in winterizing the sprinklers involves turning off the water supply. Look for the main valve that supplies the water. The valve location usually resides in the basement or a valve box outside the house. Shut off the water supply by turning the valve clockwise.

Open Up Pressure Valves

Flush all water from the sprinkler system by opening all the drain valves and plugs. This action allows pressure release from valves and pipes, which prolongs the sprinkler’s lifespan. Homeowners can open the test valves if the system has a backflow.

Cover Sprinkler System Equipment

Protect over-ground sprinkler equipment like sprinkler heads and valve boxes. Cover these components with insulated, waterproof material that shields them from the frost. Frost and cold temperatures can make the equipment brittle and crack.

Store Away Hoses and Sprinklers

Pull out garden hoses and bring them inside. Also, disconnect detachable sprinklers and other equipment that can get damaged as the ground freezes. Store all the gear in a cool, dry place.


What is winterization in landscaping?

Winterization in landscaping is the preparation of outdoor areas before the cold months. Without proper preparation, landscaping can take a severe blow in the winter. Garden equipment, unprotected plant beds, and lawns can get damaged from frost, strong winds, and freezing temperatures.

How do you keep grass in the winter?

You can keep grass in the winter by letting the lawn care professionals take some precautionary measures. Preparing the lawn for the colder months helps them fight harsh weather conditions. Some steps the experts suggest include mowing the grass, aeration, applying fertilizer, and reducing foot traffic.

Why is winterizing important?

Winterizing is important because it helps grass survive the winter. Winter fertilizers are rich in nutrients like potassium and nitrogen, making the roots strong and healthy. Winterizing the lawn also allows the soil to breathe, preserves your garden equipment's lifespan, and prevents pest and weed infestation.

Is winterization necessary?

Winterization is necessary for lawns to have healthy, green grass when spring arrives. The measures you take in early fall create the best chances for the lawn’s health when spring rolls around. Winterization helps strengthen grass by encouraging root growth through nutrient absorption.

Grow a Healthy Lawn With Heroes Lawn Care

Enjoy a healthy lawn all year long by winterizing with Heroes Lawn Care! Our seasoned lawn care veterans know exactly what each lawn needs to make it through the winter. We custom-tailor winterization plans for all lawns based on their unique circumstances and conditions. Get started today by calling Heroes Lawn Care at (402) 382-4628 for a free estimate!

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