Fall has the optimal weather to grow grass in the Twin Cities. With winter approaching, you can take several actions to prepare your lawn for winter. Taking action now will help you have a better lawn the following year.
1. Continue watering
Lower temperatures reduce heat-related water loss in the fall, but lower humidity leads to more water evaporation. Water your lawn every 3-4 days with about 0.75 inches weekly to promote healthy root development and faster spring green-up.
2. Seed bare areas and thin patches
Seeding in the fall can help you have a better lawn the following season. Opt for mid-August to late September for rapid germination and establishment before winter. Alternatively, consider mid to late November for dormant seeding, which is done after the ground freezes and germinates in the spring as the ground thaws.
3. Remove leaves before snowfall
Leaving leaves on your lawn during winter can lead to more diseases. To keep your lawn healthy, it’s best to mow or mulch the leaves, which returns nutrients to the soil and nourishes its biology. If you have a large quantity of leaves that mulching can’t fully handle, consider raking them up.
4. Fertilize to build roots
In the fall, grass stores essential carbohydrates in its roots, aiding winter survival and enabling a robust start to spring growth. Fertilizing can further boost root development and enhance carbohydrate storage, which leads to faster green-up in the spring.
5. Control weeds
Fall presents an ideal opportunity for weed control since weeds are more receptive to treatments that penetrate their roots. Ensure you apply weed control before regular frosts set in because its effectiveness diminishes once frost becomes frequent.
6. Lower your mowing height
During the summer, it’s advisable to raise your mowing height for a healthier lawn, which might result in a taller lawn going into the fall. We recommend lowering the mowing height to 3 inches before the snow arrives. This lower height helps prevent snow mold disease.
7. Make a rodent control strategy
In winter, voles can cause damage to your lawn beneath the snow. They feed on grass and nest, which creates unsightly brown trails and patches. To protect your lawn and ensure a better lawn come spring, consider using baiting, trapping, or repellents as effective strategies to reduce vole activity.
8. Prevent snow mold disease
Snow mold is a lawn disease that develops beneath snow cover, thriving in the cold, moist conditions beneath the snow. This results in unsightly, matted, tan patches that become visible in spring. To effectively combat snow mold, it’s crucial to preventatively apply disease control measures before the snowfall, as waiting until spring is too late to halt its progression.
9. Drain your irrigation system
If you have an in-ground irrigation system or use sprinklers and hoses, you must ensure they are adequately drained or blown out. This step helps prevent water from freezing in the lines during winter, reducing the risk of damage to your system’s components.
10. Aerate your lawn
Aeration enhances soil health by increasing water and air penetration, which promotes healthier soil biology. It also aids in reducing soil compaction and thatch buildup. Fall is the ideal time for aeration since there are fewer weed germination issues, and the cooler days impose less stress on the grass.