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Winter Lawn Care
Means Good Spring Grass
You've worked so hard all spring and summer to get your lawn looking its best. Don't give up now ---a little winter care will help bring your lawn back green and lush next spring.
Happily, the list of winter lawn chores is shorter than the summer list, or even the fall landscaping and lawn care recommendations, but it is important that you continue caring for your lawn now so you can enjoy it when the weather turns warm again.
Warm Season Grasses
In regions like ours, where lawns with warm-season grasses endure freezes on and off throughout the winter, you'll notice that turf goes dormant, turning a dull tan color. These lawns need only simple winter lawn care. Some homeowners decide to overseed with perennial or annual ryegrass to keep their lawn green all winter long. If that's your preference, make sure you do this before the first frost, as a sort of end-of-fall lawn care task.
One benefit of letting the turf brown during the winter is that you can easily see if any cool-season weeds have taken root in your lawn. Only a few broad-leaf weeds showing? Spot-treat them with an herbicide that kills weeds but not grass.
On the other hand, if you have too many weeds for spot treatment, start the removal process by mowing your lawn whenever possible, keeping the grass at the recommended height. This may seem like a lot of unneeded work, but most common winter weeds can't survive repeated mowing and will die off.
Finally, mark your calendar to apply a pre-emergent herbicide early in the following fall. This should eliminate most winter weeds before they start getting a foothold.
Cool Season Grasses
Winter lawn care for cool-season grasses is simple, but some winters are harsher than others. When there are hard freezes and snow cover, stay off the frozen lawn. Frozen turfgrass crowns can be crushed and killed with repeated walking, and that means barren spots in the spring.
Turfgrass crowns can also be killed by autumn leaf cover that remains throughout the winter. It's best to clear the lawn entirely before the first snow, but if you must rake after a winter thaw, be careful not to yank the grass up from the moist soil. Leaves left on the lawn can also create snow mold, which may also damage the lawn.
Snow Cover Brings Voles
Mouse-size voles (often called field mice or meadow mice) are small rodents that show up in both suburban and rural yards. They love moisture, so shaded areas with snowpack are perfect places for them to hide out. They mature rapidly and a single vole can birth up to a hundred babies in a year. Leaving the yard snowpacked means the voles burrow underground to feast on grass roots,staying fairly well hidden from most predators.
Removing the snowpack means they must stay above ground or find another yard to inhabit. If you let the snow sit, their runways will appear along the lawn surface once the snow melts off. You'll need to rake the tunnels, fill with soil and tamp lightly, then add grass seed. If your lawn is healthy, you may be able to omit the seed and allow the lawn to repair itself. If your lawn is not in the best shape, you'll need to reseed to make it look good again.
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