Winters in Tulsa don’t often get extremely cold, but temperatures can hang around the freezing mark at times. Colder weather can affect your landscaping if you don’t prepare and protect it properly. Take steps now to make sure your lawn and landscaping will be lush and enjoyable come springtime.
How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter
With the winter season just beginning, you still have time to take steps to winterize your lawn and landscaping. Here are some suggestions that will help protect
1. Check soil nutrient levels
The nutrients contained in the soil are what promotes healthy growth. Different plant varieties require a different PH level to thrive. There are DIY kits and methods available for you to perform these simple tests, or you can have your professional landscaper test it for you. The tests will reveal what nutrients are lacking so that you can add what’s needed.
If you are not able to perform a PH test, topdressing your lawn with a light layer of organic matter always works well. This adds organic nutrients while also introducing fresh microbes that do their job to keep the soil loose and nutrients available.
2. Get rid of unsightly weeds
You don’t need those unwanted weeds to get a stronger foothold through the winter months. Even when dormant, plants take in nutrients for survival and future growth. If they are sharing them with the weeds, it will detract from their healthy reemergence next spring.
This is a practice that should be done manually. Focus on the more prominent weeds and leaves the rest for springtime.
3. Give the lawn a tighter cut
Cutting your lawn shorter than usual, approximately 2-3 inches high, prevents longer blades of grass from flopping over and harboring fungal diseases when snow covers them.
If your mower height cannot be easily adjusted for this measure, mow the lawn twice using opposing mowing patterns. This method also breaks up and redistributes minor leaf cover to return the nutrients to the soil.
4. Remove or compost fallen leaves
Leaves should be raked up from the lawn so that your turfgrass gets all the sunlight that it needs.
As previously noted, you can also chop them up with a lawnmower and leave them to filter into the soil and enrich it. If you have an abundance of leaves, they can also be cut up and used as compost or mulch in vegetable gardens and flower beds.
5. Fertilize one last time
Fall is usually the ideal time to spread fertilizer over your lawn, shrubs, and other greenery. However, December is still not too late in Tulsa, as the weather usually remains above freezing. Make sure the fertilizer is designated for winter use, as it is designed to strengthen plants under stress. Take care not to over-fertilize, as it can burn the lawn.
6. Dethatch or aerate the lawn
The thatch layer is a necessary component of a healthy lawn. It provides a protective layer similar to mulch. However, sometimes the thatch becomes too thick and won’t break down fast enough to benefit the lawn. It can prevent nutrients from getting to the grassroots, promote insect infestation, and cause weed growth. That’s when dethatching is necessary. This can be accomplished by deeply raking the yard.
If dethatching doesn’t get rid of the thatch layer, core aerating is needed. By inserting small holes into the lawn’s surface, it allows the nutrients and water to reach the roots of the grass more easily.
If you have a smaller lawn, you may be able to aerate it yourself using the spike method. There are actual spiked shoes you can buy for this purpose. There are also tools specifically for spiking, or you can use a pitchfork to get the same results. To make it easier to penetrate the soil, schedule the work after a generous rainfall.
For larger yards, the best aerating solution is to use a plug aerator. You can buy or rent these to do it yourself or hire a professional lawn care company to do it for you. This tool inserts spikes into the soil, pulling cylinders of dirt from it. Just leave the cylinders on the lawn where they are; they will gradually return to the soil in time.
7. Spread fresh seed
Overseeding should always be considered after dethatching or aeration to have a lusher lawn in spring. This gives the fresh seed pockets where it can settle. If your lawn has some bare spots, you should give them special attention.
You can spread seed by hand or with a spreader. Make sure you water the seeded areas and keep them uniformly moist. Don’t worry if winter sets in before the seeds germinate. They will remain dormant during winter until optimal springtime conditions arrive.
Until then, minimize lawn foot traffic as much as possible, especially when conditions are wet.
8. Insulate plants root systems
Prevent perennial plants, shrubs, and trees from freezing and dying during the winter by applying a thick layer of mulch over the soil. It should be 3-4 inches deep, layered around the root area. Avoid piling the mulch against tree trunks; that can cause pest infestation, rot, and diseases.
9. Till the vegetable garden
After the final fall harvest is done, use a spade or rototiller to turn the soil. This is a good opportunity to add organic matter to the soil, typically the remnant vines and leaves are suitable.
This is also a good time to add lime to the soil if the PH levels are too acidic. Lime takes a few months to do its job, so taking this measure now ensures readiness for spring planting.
10. Tidy up perennials
Traditionally, perennial plants are pruned before the first frost occurred. This is to remove dead foliage and cut back the plants for a tidier look during the winter months. However, some people prefer to provide some food for wildlife by leaving seed heads and stalks intact. If this describes you, be sure to prune and trim the perennials in early spring before new growth appears.
If you choose to prune in the fall, make sure to cover the ground around the perennials with a light layer of mulch. If you wait until Spring to clean them up, typically isn’t necessary because the spent stalks and foliage should provide sufficient protection.
Get Professional Landscaping Help
Contact Proactive Landscaping for help with preparing your outside environment for winter survival. We have the knowledge, experience, and equipment to make sure your lawn and plants will be lush and healthy come springtime.