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Business Owners & Managers

How to Prepare Lawns for The Winter

Autumn is here and it is time to start planning for weeding and lawn maintenance for the Fall/Winter months. The User Advisory Group (UAG) for ECHO Means Business was tasked recently to supply tips for lawn preparation.

Jake Lanier from Massey Landscape Service of Waynesville, NC starts off with a go-to list that is easy to follow.

  • Being Consistent! Having weed free flower beds takes a lot of effort throughout the whole year. Weeds can grow like wild fire if they are not being properly maintained, so make sure you are always on top of them!

  • Keep them suppressed and suffocated by Mulching or Pine Needling twice a year, once in the Spring and Fall!

  • Use a Pre-Emergent treatment before weeds shows up. Pre-Emergent is an effective preventative method for controlling weeds before they even grow up. Pre-Emergent lasts up to 6-8 weeks. Always read the label before use!

  • Spot Spraying weeds with a Post-Emergent Herbicide such as Round-up and another brand to kill weeds after they have grown. And this goes back to tip number 1: you still have to be consistent with Spraying them!

  • Hand Pull weeds. Sure it takes more time to get on your hands and knees in the dirt but it is still a very effective way to make sure the job is done right and the roots are pulled up!

South Florida UAG pro Mario Saenz also offers his advice in an easy-to-follow list.

  • Always mix weed control with a full tank of water to keep water bubbling from happening while filling the tank. If you add weed control, then fill, you will only fill half the water because bubbles will take over.

  • In most cases you mix 2oz per gallon, but I like to add an ounce per gallon since rain or sprinklers can dilute treatment.

  • Use a temporary dye to avoid spraying the same place twice.

  • A light fanned tip nozzle is best. We want to lightly spray weeds not give them a bath. The moment any moisture touches the leaf the weed will think its water and consume it. Over spraying is pointless.

  • For quicker results; first spray the weed, then wait and spray again if needed and finally clean it up afterwards.

Johny Crooks of Blades of Grass of Savannah, GA applies a Pre-Emergent to the lawns in mid-October which controls most winter broad leaf weeds and specially Poa annual which is extremely invasive in that area. It also minimizes the number of visits to the property during the winter season. Crooks recommends using Snap Shot on the plant beds.

Canadian Julio Tome of Lawn Care Business in British Columbia says that weed control around the garden seems like an ever ending battle throughout the year. He says that preventative maintenance starts with aerating the lawn. This introduces soil compaction and encourages healthy root growth.

After this, Tome recommends over-seeding the lawn that is specific to the region where you live. Next, you want to mechanically remove weeds without using chemicals. Julio believes that this is safer for the areas around the weeds. This is especially important in the off-season when the lawn is dormant. Any damage may not recover from damage during this time. He also suggests using natural products like corn gluten meal just before the spring growing season. This is known to prevent weed germination when the temperatures start to rise and it’s safe for people, pets and the environment.

As a last step, Julio likes to use natural mulch to cover all the soil surfaces that will smother weeds trying to pop up during the off season. He uses grass clippings and leaves when mowing the yard. As this cover starts to decompose, it creates a thick mat over the soil and prevents seed germination, but allows rain and other water to drain through.

"The best part about using grass clippings as mulch is that in the spring there is no need to remove the mulch," - he said.
"You just till the decomposing mulch layer directly into the soil to enrich and feed the new plants, and crops for the spring growing season."

Brian Fullerton of Brian’s Lawn Maintenance in Milford, MI suggests proper planning starting with mowing the lawn. He said, "Be sure to give the lawn that final low cut (when dealing with Northern/Midwest grass types like Kentucky Blue Grass), at around 2.5"-2.75". This will help ensure the lawn doesn't rake over, and creating trouble spots causing snow mold or snow damage from winter.

He adds, "Clean up the leaves and debris and then "…consider adding a final round of fertilizer in late October to early November. Many brands utilize a winterizing blend with different formulas, to help the lawns have enough nutrients through winter, which provide for a quick comeback come spring."

Finally, Fullerton says to evaluate performing a core aeration and over seeding to repair damaged areas of turf or in areas where that you want to increase thickness of the lawn. With fall and cooler weather, the conditions are perfect to reseed high traffic areas and damaged areas to provide a lush thick lawn.

Heading into Fall is a great time to develop a maintenance schedule to get your lawn looking it's best and give it the nutrition it needs for winter.