Once temperatures begin cooling down in winter, it may seem like lawn care is behind you. Yet even in winter lawns have needs that should be met to ensure your lawn greens up and thrives come spring. Most maintenance is best done in fall before the ground freezes and as the lawn goes dormant. In areas with mild winters some year-round care is needed for the lawn to thrive. Winter care of your lawn is not as demanding as summer maintenance, but it is just as important.
Mow the lawn until it quits growing in late fall, usually until there is a freeze. Set the lawn mower blade 1/2 inch lower for the final mowing of the season to prevent long, dead grass from matting under snowfall.
Remove all the fallen leaves and other debris from the lawn in fall and throughout winter. Leaving the leaves on the lawn causes them to form a mat under snow which smothers the grass and kills it.
Water the lawn during periods when temperatures are above freezing but the ground is dry, especially in mild winter areas and if you have cool-season grass such as fescue. Water in the morning so the blades are not still wet in the cooler evening hours. Water no more than once a week and provide no more than 1 to 2 inches of water.
Fertilize cool-season grasses in mild winter areas that experience little freezing. Fertilize around the beginning of February with a 3-1-2 lawn fertilizer, following label application instructions.
Look for areas in the lawn that are experiencing fungus problems, such as mildew, mold or mushrooms. Apply a lawn fungicide to problem areas so the fungus doesn't begin spreading in spring. Check the lawn as soon as snow melts for snow mold issues.