Before retreating inside for the winter, winterize your lawn and trees with winter lawn fertilizer, tree pruning, leaf clean-up, mulching, rodent control & more! The signs of approaching winter everywhere – trees are quickly shedding all their leaves, the grass is going dormant, and we’ve had the first snow. Before we take refuge inside our warm homes for the winter, give your yard some attention to help kill weeds and ensure your lawn will come to life beautifully in the spring.
Ryan Lawn & Tree turf department experts Ryan Westhoff and Drew Wilson offer five tips for winter lawn winterization:
Westhoff said maintaining leaf litter and getting all the leaves up is one of the biggest steps you can take to help your yard thrive during the winter. Leaves that stay on the ground throughout the winter will cause harm to the turf as they become matted down and smother out the grass. Now is also the time to simply clean up your outside yard from various items that might still be out there from the warmer months. That could mean grinding down and removing dead tree stumps from your yard.
“Winter is a great time to do structure pruning, where you can selectively prune a tree to help it grow in a healthier, stronger, more sustainable manner,” Wilson said.
He said winter is the optimal time for this tree winterization pruning because it’s easier to see dead limbs in a tree canopy after the leaves have fallen. Wilson also said late fall is a great time to plant a tree. A fall planting offers the new tree plenty of time to establish a root base and acclimate to its surroundings before the extreme heat of summer.
Typically, cutting the lawn shorter before the winter is a good idea. Drew says a rule of thumb for fescue grass is to keep it at 2 ½ to 3 inches during the fall, winter and spring months. It’s best to keep Bermuda grasses taller and thicker to allow for more insulation.
Late fall and winter is also the time to put down nitrogen-based lawn fertilizers. Westhoff said this helps feed the lawn’s root system and acts as a large food reserve. This encourages a deeper, darker green come spring. Overall, Westoff said they often refer to this winter lawn fertilizing as the “heaviest feeding of the year” for a lawn.
Using a liquid root fertilizer is one of the best winter fertilizers for trees and shrubs and can help stimulate growth during winter months as well. Trees and shrubs will also benefit from additional mulch for winter insulation.
While we may slow down in the winter, rodents’ activity is typically high this time of year as they are looking for places to keep warm. Ryan Lawn & Tree offers a rodent guard program that involves installing bate stations around the home to protect your home from a variety of larger pests, including mice, rats and voles. These stations are in enclosed boxes that are safe from pets and children.
Treating for spiders with an exterior spray may be beneficial as they often try to find a way inside as it gets colder.
Sprinkler winterization is important because it only takes a small amount of water residue left inside your irrigation system to freeze, expand and crack PVC piping. Winter watering is also important, but it’s not done with the help of the sprinkler system.
At Ryan Lawn & Tree, we employ our RYAN Pros year-round so we can keep consistent, high-quality lawn service for you year-round. That means we’re available to provide winter lawn fertilizer, tree pruning, weed killer and other winterization services. While you might not spend much time in your yard over the next several months, it’s still important to help it stay healthy throughout the winter. Make a plan now to follow these tips this winter to care for your lawn and trees and they’ll reward you in the spring with a fresh, healthy green foliage. If you have questions about winterizing your lawn or trees, give one of our five local Midwest offices a call at 855.216.2293. We’re here to help!