As the crisp autumn air settles in and the leaves start to change colors, it's time to start thinking about winterizing your lawn in Colorado. Winter can be harsh, with freezing temperatures and snowfall, but proper preparation can help your lawn withstand the challenges and emerge vibrant and healthy in the spring. Follow these steps to ensure your lawn is well-prepared for the winter months.
Start by clearing your lawn of any debris, such as fallen leaves, branches, and other clutter. This step is crucial as debris can block sunlight and trap moisture, creating an ideal environment for diseases to thrive. Rake up leaves and dispose of them properly and trim any overhanging branches that could potentially damage your lawn during winter storms.
After clearing up all your debris you should give your lawn a final mow before winter sets in but be sure not to cut it too short. Set your mower to a height of 2 to 2.5 inches. Taller grass provides better insulation and helps protect the roots from extreme cold temperatures. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade length in a single mowing session.
Aerating your lawn helps improve soil drainage and allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots. Use a lawn aerator to create small holes throughout the lawn, especially in high-traffic areas. This step is particularly important in Colorado, where the soil tends to compact over time. While the aerator plugs are freshly made, consider over seeding your lawn with a cool season grass blend suitable for Colorado's climate. This step helps fill in bare spots and enhances the overall density of your lawn. Choose a high-quality grass seed and spread it evenly across the lawn, following the recommended seeding rate.
After aerating apply a winter fertilizer with a formulation primarily of slow-release nitrogen. I like to note that most fertilizers labeled as winterizer are mostly a marketing tactic. What you want to use is either an Organic Fertilizer or a MESA nitrogen type pellet. Once the temperatures get colder, microbial activity and plant nutrient uptake begins to slow. Ensuring that you have a nice quality slow-release nitrogen will ensure that you receive a quick green up in the lawn as soon as temperatures start to warm and nutrients become more bio-available.
Prepare your irrigation system for winter by draining any remaining water to prevent freezing and damage. If you have an automatic system, consider hiring a professional to blow out the remaining water with compressed air. Disconnect and store hoses, and shut off outdoor water faucets.
If your lawn is surrounded by plants and shrubs, take steps to protect them from winter weather. Mulch or compost around the base of plants to insulate the soil and regulate temperature. Consider wrapping more delicate plants with burlap to shield them from harsh winds.
By following these steps to winterize your lawn in Colorado, you're setting the foundation for a lush and healthy lawn come spring. Taking the time to prepare your lawn for winter not only helps it survive the cold months but also promotes strong, vigorous growth when the warmer weather returns. So, grab your tools and get started on winterizing your lawn today!