To steal the famous phrase from Game of Thrones, ‘Winter is coming’. So, now is the time to make sure you give your lawn all the protection it needs to survive the cold weather. David Truby, Managing Director of Greensleeves – a lawn care business with 108 locations across the UK, including Yorkshire, gives his advice on how to ensure your lawn survives the cold this winter.
From incessant rain to that early morning frost, for even the most dedicated of gardeners, the desire to sit inside in the warmth of your home can prove infinitely more appealing than standing out in the cold, tending to the lawn. But just because the cold winter weather is on the horizon, it does not mean we should be neglecting our gardens. In fact, at this time of year, they require extra protection from the elements to live. So, if you spent the summer pruning, weeding and generally making your garden the best it can be, it can easily fall apart in September if you are not careful.
Grass growth slows and becomes increasingly dormant during winter, but its growth certainly does not stop completely, and neither should mowing your lawn! The trick is to continue mowing your lawn as needed, never allowing it to become too long as this can significantly reduce the quality and potentially increase the severity of moss invasion.
It is important that you ensure the mower blades are sharp, so as not to cause damage to the lawn itself. Never attempt to mow your lawn if it is saturated or covered in frost, and take extra care to remove excess leaves and debris by raking. This helps to prevent environments that may encourage fungal diseases.
Watch for moss and mould
The two most common issues UK lawns face during the winter months are moss and snow mould infestations. Both infestations can have devastating effects on your grass, so it is important you target them at source. Moss is a common issue that most people will recognise should it invade their lawns.
However, snow mould is a little less notorious yet just as troublesome to deal with.
Moss thrives in conditions, such as compacted soil, poor drainage, excessive shade and weak, hungry and overgrown grass. To stop a moss invasion, I recommend targeting the moss using specially formulated treatments which are designed to desiccate the thatch and prevent it from developing further. On the other hand, snow mould is a fungal disease that appears on the lawn as yellowish/brown patches. There are two types of snow mould: grey (typhula incarnata) which commonly occurs after prolonged snow cover, and pink (microdochium nivale) which is active in cool, wet conditions. To prevent this kind of fungal disease, I strongly recommend removing any leaves or debris by gently raking or using a leaf blower.
Not only does composting provide your soil with organic nutrients, but it also aids in the suppression of weed growth and insulates plant roots, with the added benefit of reducing soil erosion from rain damage. While some gardeners might not bother composting during the winter months, it can help you to stay on track once the cold weather dies down.
When composting in winter, you will not need to turn your compost bin as often, because turning helps to regulate moisture. Turning the pile too often in winter can result in heat loss. Also try and cut down all compost materials into smaller pieces; this is because the decomposition process slows down in winter. The best strategy for optimum composting is to ensure certain materials are as small as possible.
Finally, layering is key. Layering brown and green compost materials helps to generate heat and insulate the pile. Fallen leaves act as a great compost insulator, so when the autumn weather kicks in, collect a store of leaves to add throughout the winter.
Don’t forget to mulch
When it comes to winter, it’s crucial to protect plants from drastic temperature changes, to help your garden endure the colder months.
Though largely forgotten, mulching plays a key role in your lawn’s survival. Usually made from materials such as straw, shredded leaves or wood chips, it creates a barrier between the soil and the air itself, shielding the grass beneath. A layer of mulch material applied to the surface of the soil acts just like a blanket, and is the easiest, and cheapest, way to winter-proof your garden.
Used to retain moisture and suppress the growth of weeds, mulch helps to protect the root and stem of plants, keeping temperatures stable and adding all-important nutrients to the soil.
Call in the experts
Calling in the experts to provide a tailored seasonal treatment is the best way to prepare your lawn for the colder months. These treatments are specifically designed to help your lawn tackle the change in temperature. By getting the experts in, your grass isn’t just protected so it looks lush and green next season; it also stays in top condition and looks great through the winter too!