Winter Tips

Prepare Your Landscape for Winter

by Tom Sunderland

As temperatures begin to drop and autumn arrives in Colorado, there are a variety of tasks homeowner’s need to complete to protect their landscape.

Aerate Your Lawn

If you have not already done so, aerate your turfgrass. This will lessen soil compaction and allow nutrients and water to penetrate your lawn.

Fertilize Your Lawn Organically

Fertilize your lawn with a late season organic fertilizer such as Espoma Organic Lawn Food Fall Winterizer.  Apply to a dry lawn that has recently been mowed. Use a drop or broadcast spreader and be certain to overlap slightly to prevent striping. For best results water lightly after the application if rain is not expected within 24 hours. If grass clippings are returned: Apply at a rate of about 6 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. If grass clippings are removed: Double the rates above.

Why organic fertilizer is better than chemical?

Yes, organic fertilizers or natural lawn fertilizers are vastly superior to chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers stimulate beneficial microbial activity in soils as well as provide nutrients for the plant. Organic fertilizers provide a steady slow release of nutrients for the optimum development of plant roots.

Chemical lawn care companies’ philosophy to lawn care is to feed the plant or lawn with frequent applications of synthetic or salt based nitrogen fertilizers that are high in salt content which has been proven to kill soil microbes. The more chemical fertilizers are used on a lawn the worse the soil quality will become and the faster the soil will die.

Complete the last mow of the season

Your last mow of the year should be close to your normal mow height of around 3”. This length will allow for protection of the turf crown but be short enough to not promote snow mold. 

Winterize your irrigation system & water features

Prior to the first freeze of the season, your back flow should be drained to protect it from freeze damage (or temporarily covered and insulated). Before the ground begins to freeze, the system should be blown out. This process involves blowing compressed air through your irrigation pipes and heads to ensure that most of the water is removed, which could cause them to freeze and break if not done. 

Wrap tree trunks

Trees with a 6” or less caliper (trunk diameter) and smooth thin bark should have their trunks wrapped over the winter. Tree wrap is available at your local hardware or garden center.

Protect plants with mulch

Mulch aids in protecting plants and trees roots from freezing winter temperatures. Stick to a 3” maximum depth and avoid piling mulch on the trunk of your tree or directly on the stems of your shrubs as this keeps the plant too wet, and, in turn more susceptible to rotting, insects and diseases.

Cut back perennials

Perennials should be cut back this time of year after all foliage has browned. We recommend leaving ornamental grasses and Russian Sage uncut until early spring, as they provide great winter interest in the garden. Be sure to cut them back prior to spring growth resuming.

Remove and compost  annual flowers & vegetables

Annual flowers and annual vegetables should be removed from your garden and added to your compost bin. This provides them with plenty of time to break down over winter, providing rich compost for planting in the spring. 

Late Fall and Winter watering.

Purchase a moisture meter to check the moisture levels of your plant material over winter months. The best thing you can do for most of your plants is to make sure that the root zone is wet prior to the ground freezing. Winter water on days over 40°F.   If you don’t like dragging hoses around in the winter, consider Native Edge’s winter watering services to help your turf and plants thrive.  

Get in touch!

Do you live in the Boulder area and could use some help with an irrigation winterization, fall cleanup, or winter watering?   Or interested in learning more about an annual Landcare Program customized for your property’s specific needs?  Get in touch!