Winter Lawn Care

Learn what you should do over winter to keep your lawn looking great next spring and summer.

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Shred Raked Leaves and Add to Compost

Shred Raked Leaves and Add to Compost

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover , 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Give your grass the royal treatment by providing a little winter lawn care. Your winter to-do list won’t be as grueling as summer (mowing, weeding, watering), but steps you take during the frosty season help ensure that your lawn provides toe-tickling pleasure next spring and summer. What tasks you need to focus on depends on where you live and what kind of grass you grow.

In regions where lawns contain warm-season grasses and freezes occur regularly throughout winter, the turf goes dormant, forming a buff-colored swath. A dormant warm-season lawn calls for simple winter lawn care. You may choose to overseed with perennial or annual ryegrass if you want a green lawn all winter. This task is usually done before the first frost, making it more of fall lawn care chore.

If you pass on overseeding, you can use winter’s beige-tone grass to your advantage. In winter, cool-season weeds thrive. In dormant warm-season turf, anything green stands out like a sore thumb. If you only have a few broadleaf weeds, spot-treat them using an herbicide that kills weeds but not grass.

If your lawn has too many weeds to spot-treat, follow these winter lawn care steps. First, keep mowing your lawn through winter at the recommended height for your lawn grass. Most common winter weeds can’t survive repeated mowing like this and will die. Use a bag attachment on your mower when mowing to catch seeds any of these weeds might manage to set. The final step in this eradication process is to flip your calendar to next September and mark it to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. You can eliminate many winter weeds with a fall herbicide application.

Winter lawn care for cool-season grasses involves simple activities. For instance, in areas where winter brings hard freezes and even snow cover, it’s a good idea to stay off frozen lawns. Repeated walking or driving over frozen lawns can kill turfgrass crowns, which leads to spring bare spots.

If you didn’t get all the autumn leaves removed from the lawn before snow arrived, tackle that task if there’s a thaw at some point. Rake carefully, especially if soil is moist, because grass can pull up easily. Leaves that remain over grass through winter can kill turf crowns. They can also contribute to snow mold, which creates minor lawn damage.

15 Striking Plants for Winter Color

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Cabbages and Kales

Ornamental kale and cabbage are some of the most popular winter annual plants. They lend a completely different texture to a winter landscape bed. Once the plants are hardened by cooler night temperatures they can survive most cold winters.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Camellias

Camellias prefer acidic, moist yet well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. They flower in the fall and winter when their display of colorful blooms is most appreciated. The waxy-petalled flowers linger long on plants, displaying shades of red, pink, coral, white and bicolors. Plants are evergreen, growing to form shrubs or small trees. Once established, camellias are drought-tolerant.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Winter Jasmine

Jasminum nudiflorum or winter jasmine is an exceptionally trouble-free plant to grow.

Holly Bush

Hollies bring an eye-catching display of evergreen leaves that is often punctuated with bright red or gold berries.

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Winterberry Holly

Winterberry hollies are deciduous, and the berry-bedecked branches truly stop traffic. (Even this lizard stopped to take a gander at the beautiful berries!)

Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster is another leafy evergreen that you can depend on for a dazzling berry show in even frigid winters. It's a fast-grower and can be used as a striking groundcover.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Japanese Maples

Japanese maples often have artistically shaped trunks. The contorted branches on this shrub or small tree come into focus as winter arrives.

Nandina

Nandina shows off its berries in areas with milder winters. Tuck these plants in front of solid backdrops so the berries can shine.

Native Serviceberry

Native serviceberries also earn rave reviews for snow-covered branches. Watch for white blossoms in spring, followed by tasty berries in June. Birds love the berries, so if you want any for a pie, net trees. Fall color features shades of red and orange.

Doublefile Viburnum

Doublefile viburnum has a symmetrical, tiered branch structure that’s beautiful when covered with snow.

Red- and Yellow-Stemmed Dogwood

Red and yellow twig dogwood each inspire with their colorful winter stems, which show up best against dark evergreens or a snowy landscape.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel, a native shrub or small tree, opens strappy flowers in late winter to early spring. The blooms offer shades of yellow or orange and a sweet fragrance. Fall foliage is a striking gold, so this plant pulls double-duty in terms of seasonal interest.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Star Magnolia

Star magnolia opens pale blush to white flowers with a sweet fragrance in late winter to early spring.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Ford

Snowdrops

Close out winter with a flourish of color, courtesy of bulbs and perennials. Snowdrops grow from bulbs and return reliably year after year. Make sure to plant the bulbs during fall to give them the chilling period they need to bloom.

Lenten Roses

Lenten roses (hellebores) offer leathery evergreen leaves accented with rose-like flowers in shades of pink, red, maroon, chartreuse and white. Plants self-sow readily, forming low-maintenance colonies.

The other big issue in areas with snow cover is vole trails. These mouse-like critters occur in both suburban and rural yards. A pretty blanket of snow on the lawn gives voles the cover they need to feast on grass roots in open lawn—undetected by predators. Once snow melts, their shallow runways appear along the lawn surface. The runways resemble a tunnel that’s missing its top.

Once snow melts, as long as you keep grass mowed, these critters won’t show their mousy little faces in open areas. Repairing ruts is simple: Rake, fill in with soil, tamp lightly, add grass seed, cover. You can even skip the grass seed if your lawn is healthy. The grass will creep in and repair itself. To keep the vole population in check, get an outdoor cat.

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