Winter lawn care depends on the regional climate, type of lawn grass and local environmental conditions. Warm-season grasses are found in warm, temperate climates characteristic of the southern United States and require no fertilizer or watering during winter months. Cool-seasons grasses are found in cool, temperate climates characteristic of the northern United States and require less fertilizer and watering compared to summer months.
Do not apply fertilizer during the winter months for warm-season lawn grasses. During the winter months, warm-season grass is dormant and any fertilizer that is applied to the lawn during this period is more likely to promote cool-season weed growth as opposed to grass growth.
Lawns in the northern United States that have cool season grasses, such as fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, do grow during the winter months and will benefit from winter fertilizer application.
Regardless of your regional climate during the winter months, both warm- and cool-season grass lawns will benefit from a soil analysis to determine soil pH levels, nutrient levels and toxicity levels. Many states provide free soil sample analysis either through state universities or the Department of Agriculture. With the information gleaned from the soil sample analysis you can make a detailed plan of action for the lawn starting early in spring including lawn lime and specialized fertilizer applications.
Warm-season lawns during the winter months do not require irrigation or watering because there is no grass growth. However, prolonged winter droughts in the south may require light watering to protect the health of the top soil and prevent excessive soil compaction and nutrient loss.
Cool season grasses continue to grow throughout the winter months, however at a slow pace than during the summer. Therefore, cool season grass should be watered less during the winter to account for reduced grass growth. Excessive watering of cool season grass during the winter can lead to saturated top soil and weed growth.