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Lawn winter care: How to keep your lawn healthy in the colder months

Lawn winter care
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Doing a little lawn winter care can pay off in dividends by the time summer rolls around. There are many worthwhile activities to do to preserve your hard work in the cold months and prevent damage from undoing your lawn’s beauty. 

When it comes to protecting your lawn against the harsh conditions of winter, there are a few essentials that can make all the difference. This includes doing a final cut with one of the best gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab) or best electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) and ensuring that you've provisioned nutrients for your soil over winter. 

However, there are also a few other ways to keep your lawn in tip top condition throughout the colder months. We’ve covered everything, from aerating your lawn to what to do in heavy snow, so that you can preserve your backyard through the cold and emerge with less work to do in the spring. 

Lawn winter care tips

Perfect your last cut before the cold

If you're not quite suffering under cold conditions just yet, or are awaiting winter to roll in, then it's crucial that you get the last lawn cut before winter just right. One crucial element of this is picking the right time to go for that final trim with one of the best riding lawn mowers (opens in new tab) before the mower hibernates for the winter. 

Get to know exactly when you think that the first frost is going to hit your town or city, and plot this as time for the last preparations for your lawn before winter. This is likely to be in the winter months, and you should be gearing up as soon as summer ends for this period, by changing the height that you cut your grass to. 

Popular consensus says that you should aim to have your lawn about two to three inches tall at this point, which is likely to be a sweet spot for the winter. Grass that is too short might not survive the season, and grass that is too long can fold over on itself in the case of heavy snow or other conditions. Some keen gardeners believe that it is better to lean toward longer grass within the winter in order to create pockets of air to let your lawn breathe if you expect heavy snow, but this all depends on the type and health of your grass and how much snowfall you expect to have.

Lawn winter care

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aerate your lawn

If you want to get stuck in and ensure that your lawn will be refreshed in the spring, then aerating your lawn is a simple task that will work wonders. Aeration is especially important in winter as soil and grass become particularly compacted in cold conditions, such as snow. Thatch, which is a thin layer of dead grass between soil that is growing, is the enemy of your healthy spring lawn and can be lessened through aerating. 

Aeration is the process of making holes and loosening the lower layers of soil, which lets all those essential nutrients flood in, and will give you the lawn of your dreams. Make sure to water your lawn in the days before the aeration process, or wait for a period of rainfall to pass. 

You can purchase an aerator tool, or opt for a mower with an aerator included, such as this pick from Amazon (opens in new tab). Each tool should contain instructions for use, but it is vital that you cover your lawn completely in one swoop as you aerate. After you've created the holes, be sure to apply fertilizer to your lawn, which can enter into those spaces and provide nutrients for your grass.

Know how to handle snow

One of the major foes of a healthy lawn in winter is the fall of snow, especially if you live in a region where snowdrifts are a serious issue. Knowing how to deftly handle snowfall will unlock a healthier life for your lawn, and begins with learning when to know that you have to step back from your snow shovel. 

If you live in an area where snowfall is common, then taking steps to remove large piles of snow can actually be counterproductive, as the grass is likely to be better adapted to surviving under the blanket than the freezing temperatures without it. Shoveling snow isn't a gentle activity and can undo the hard work you've put in, plus it can add detrimental footfall on your grass. 

If you find that your lawn looks in a bad way after snow has passed, then remember to be patient until it has thawed, and aerate and fertilize your lawn when you can to pack some of those nutrients back in.

Lawn winter care

(Image credit: Getty)

Reduce traffic

It's important to limit the activity on your lawn within winter at all times and not just when it snows. Your grass is at its most fragile in these months, and if it is walked over too much, then the compacting process that we spoke of earlier is more likely to occur. So, make sure your path to your front door or car doesn't cross across your grass, and if you have pets, make sure they have a designated area, rather than letting them adventure across your entire lawn. 

Avoid parking your cars on the lawn and try and make sure that there isn't a build up of water by ensuring proper drainage before winter hits. This can be done with the help of the best lawn edgers (opens in new tab) and will help with preventing your lawn from developing winter health problems. 

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Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.