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January 18, 2017

A beautiful lawn during the warmer months is a wonderful thing. Walking barefoot across a smooth and vibrant lawn is one of summer’s subtle yet fantastic virtues. Plus, it’s always a good feeling to pull into your driveway and marvel at your yard’s summer-friendly greenness. Many agree that a great lawn is worth the work, though many prospective great-lawn owners neglect winter lawn care maintenance, which can contribute significantly to a healthy summer appearance.

Many tenants value a yard's appearance significantly when considering a home or apartment. As a result, landlords should make a special effort to maintain a great-looking lawn, as it shows prospective tenants the property is taken care of.

Although it may sound odd that lawn treatment in December will impact its appearance in June, your lawn requires year-round treatment if you want it to be among the best on the block. Plus, addressing the lawn in winter will save on lawn work in the summer.

For both landlords seeking a great impression and tenants who wish to better their space — either on their own or via a lawn crew — some winter lawn care maintenance tips include:

Winter Fertilizing

A lawn needs ample nutrients, though many of these nutrients are collected naturally within the soil. Still, there are many lawns where the soil is lacking all the needed ingredients. Nitrogen, which aids keeping your grass a vibrant green, and phosphorous, which supports grassroots, are the two most important. Potassium, which also helps strengthen roots, is another.

Late fall and early winter are the most ideal times to fertilize your lawn, assuming it's cool season grass, which the majority of lawns in North America are. Fertilizing your grass prior to the first freeze helps to prevent nutrient loss. Fertilizer remains in the soil regardless of a freeze, so it can feed your lawn's roots throughout the entire winter. This will help make it vibrant and green come springtime. Consider fertilizing in October or November, when there’s the first notable chill in the air.

The Strategy of Mowing

Mowing seems like a rather straightforward process, though there is certainly a strategy to it. To encourage ample growth and a popping green color, strive to gradually lower the cutting base of your mower every time you mow your lawn, steadily cutting it shorter each time. This essentially eases the grass into to winter, when there's little to no growth.

Make sure your grass is as short as possible as autumn approaches. Shorter grass helps prevent new and fragile growth, while also deterring mice from building nests in the grass, which they do as colder seasons approach. Shorter grass helps fertilization act more efficiently, as well as decrease its status as an appealing fall/winter home for pests.

Avoid and Prevent Lawn Foot Traffic

It may not be feasible to avoid your lawn entirely as summer shifts into autumn, though it’s certainly advised to avoid it as much as possible. Although grass is resilient, it can have problems growing back if there's ample foot traffic above it. There's a reason why common foot-paths are often marked by brown and dry grass.

To prevent foot traffic through the grass, plow your sidewalks of snow and ice in a timely manner so people are not tempted to cut across the lawn. Also, there should never be a circumstance for a car or truck to park on your lawn. This will leave impressions in the soil that can kill grass and bring rise to unappealing crabgrass and weeds. If foot traffic is unavoidable, consider using a punch-core aerator to limit the damage.

Other Tips to Consider

In addition to timely fertilizing, a prudent mowing strategy and prevention of foot traffic, other tips to consider for winter lawn care include:

  • Rake away any dead leaves to prevent wet spots that can result in mold or moss.
  • In addition to fertilizing the lawn before the first freeze, also aerate and mow it.
  • When choosing your fertilizer, evaluate your budget and amount of time you have. Organic fertilizer has a slower release, while liquid fertilizer is more immediate yet expensive.
  • Consider using a compressor to winterize sprinkler systems, especially if you live in an area where winters are not harsh and sprinkling could benefit.

While your lawn may feel like the least of your concerns during colder months, using the aforementioned tips to maintain its nutrition and appearance during the fall and winter will result in a vibrant, healthy summer lawn that will impress any passer-by, whether it’s family or a prospective tenant.

About the Author: This article was written exclusively for Rentometer by Megan WildMegan Wild is a real estate and home improvement blogger who writes about easy ways that you can fix up rentals or your home. When she’s not sanding her next project, she’s found walking her dog, Tucker.

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