In most parts of the country, lawn grass goes dormant in the winter. In the south, cool season ryegrass is often overseeded into the turf to maintain a green lawn. In the north, it's too cold for any grass to grow so we wait patiently for spring - sometimes under snow cover, sometimes not. Lawn care doesn't quite end in the winter though.
There are still some considerations and concerns that one should be aware of even in the winter.
- Clean it up. It is extremely important not to leave debris, leaves, or toys out on the lawn. These things can smother the grass, create disease conditions, and invite insects, mice and other damaging pests.
- Lower the height of your mower by a notch or two (.5" - 1.0") the last couple of times you mow. Excessively long grass can smother itself, cause disease, and is at risk of damage from freezing and thawing conditions. However, do not cut the grass too short and scalp it thus exposing the crown of the plant to extreme conditions.
- Be aware of traffic. Under snow cover, or exposed to the elements, dormant grass will tolerate a moderate amount of traffic but a heavily worn path will be slower to green up in the spring and cause compaction.
- Monitor weather conditions. Turf is very resilient and can tolerate an extreme winter but certain conditions can be harmful in the long term. It might be worthwhile to chip away a little exposed ice in a low spot if you know a winter storm or deep freeze is approaching.
Winters can often be unpredictable and may put your lawn through some extreme conditions during the course of a winter. The best thing to do is make sure the grass has hardened off, you've "put the lawn to bed" properly, monitor the weather, and focus on keeping your sidewalks clear and building snowmen.