Looking After Your Lawn In Winter
Try to rest the lawn as much as possible during winter. If practical keep off when wet or frosty, as the grass plants are not actively growing; if damaged, they will not repair themselves until the spring.
Mowing: Put simply, mow the lawn as and when it needs it ! Changing climate conditions now mean that lawns can carry on growing well into the winter, and giving the lawn a light mow every now and then is certainly a good idea. The frequency of mowing will depend upon weather conditions and temperatures at the time; do not mow if heavy frosts are expected, or if the ground is very wet.
Pests: Be vigilant for any signs of Leatherjacket or Chafer Grub infestation - as you are spending less time in the garden during the winter, damage can easily be overlooked. Fact sheets on Leatherjackets and Chafer grubs are available on request.
Aeration: Providing it is not done when it is frosted, aeration during the winter months will benefit the lawn. Aeration will relieve compaction, improve drainage, and allow more air into the root system, leading to a healthier, more vigorous lawn. Experienced gardeners sometimes talk about the beneficial effects of ‘getting some winter’ into the lawn. What this means is that when frost penetrates the soil via the holes caused by aeration, pockets of moisture in the soil freeze and expand, and this helps to break up the soil, thus maximising the benefits of aeration. In tests, grass roots have been shown to proliferate around the holes created, due to the ‘pruning’ effect of the tines cutting through the roots.
Clearing leaves and debris: This is important. Use a light rake or brush to keep the lawn free of leaves and debris. If left, they can turn the grass yellow and even kill it off by blocking the light. This can also contribute to moss development and weed ingress in areas where the grass has died back. Furthermore, the slimy, wet morass of decaying leaves can contribute to lawn disease. Specialist leaf sweepers and lawn vacuums are available for hire from local garden centres or DIY stores for larger lawns.
Worm Casts: Worms are beneficial to the soil structure of a lawn and also improve the nutrient content, but their casts can be unsightly, and if rolled into ‘pancakes’, can kill the lawn below. Of the 27 species of worm that are native to Britain, only 3 species produce casts. Worm casts are best left to dry and then swept or brushed away with a stiff brush. However, if required, we have a treatment which will control worm casts. Please ask for Fact Sheet No. 20 for further details.
Service your mower: Service or, if necessary, replace your mower now, ready for the next growing season, and whilst the dealers are less busy. Always make sure that the blades are in good condition and are sharp.
Snow Mould: This can be a problem. If you are concerned, please ask for Fact Sheet No. 22 for further details.