Best Winter Lawn and Landscape Care Tips

Don’t you think once you finish the prep winter lawn care projects, that’s enough and winter will be the time for you to take off till the spring? Regret to tell you that you’re wrong! Depending on the climate where you live, your lawn will consist of some kind of cool-season grass that should be still overseeded into your lawn in the cold season.

Winter lawn and landscaping care

In most parts of the country, although grasses often hibernate in the winter, that doesn’t mean the lawn care should end in these coldest months. While warm-season grass, such as zoysia or Bermuda, will turn into the color of straw in fall and winter, cool-season turf (like perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, etc.) is overseeded into your snow lawn. If you don’t take the winter lawn care, winter can easily wreak havoc on your garden landscape.

Take these tips to protect your entire lawn, including plants and trees, shrubs from snow, ice, and frigid winds. Keep your lawn healthy and maintain its lush green over the cold-harsh temperatures in the winter and get ready for the next spring.

Or contact us for a thorough lawn care project!


  • I. Prepare Lawn Care for a Long Hibernate Nap

    • 1. Aerate the Lawn

    • 2. Mowing

    • 3. Rake Leaves and Remove Debris

    • 4. Fertilize

    • 5. Water Lawn and Plants

  • II. Protect Trees and Shrubs in Renton Landscaping

    • 1. Apply Mulch

    • 2. Seeding Cool-season Grass

    • 3. Prune Winter Plants

  • III. Avoid Salt Damage


1. Aerate the Lawn

The heavy traffic or the machinery weight can cause compaction to the dormant grass and the soil underneath the snow cover. This might lead to drying out the soil and the lack of nutrients providing grass and plant roots in your lawn, as well as lead to drainage problems.

Machinery on lawn

Another reason for blocking grass from reaching air and nutrients is the thatch – the thickness of the layer between grass and soil, which is caused by materials and debris in the lawn. Both will prevent your lawn from absorbing air, water, and nutrients, as well as lead to drainage issues.

Thatch layer of turf

The best solution for soil compaction problems, especially in the season when overnight guests usually park their cars overflow for winter holidays causing the steady stream of foot traffic, is aeration. This process allows air and water to penetrate the turf and soil by making some holes into the ground and breaking down the thatch. You can use a manual aerator or rent a power one to finish this process.

Lawn aeration

Aerating the lawn will improve drainage issues of itself and inhibit snow molds – fungal infection problems during the snow melting. Actually, aerating the lawn should be done in the fall or warmer seasons, when winter hasn’t come yet. However, if you don’t get that chance, you still can aerate the lawn in the winter as soon as you can, better to finish it before the ground is frozen.

2. Mowing

Most gardeners usually come to the question: “What height should we mow grass in the lawn for winter preparation?”. Normally, you should keep the grass no more than 2 – 2.5 inches in the final cutting before the coldest months come in. Specifically, give the last cut for warm-season zoysia grass of about 1 – 2 inches, while the height suggestion for cool-season perennial ryegrass is between 1 and 2.5 inches.

Zoysia grass

Perennial ryegrass

This shorter-than-summer height is to protect new growth of grass during the winter and against rodent infestation and snow mold. However, remember not to remove grass higher than one-third of the mower blade in each mowing. If your grass is too long, try to control it for 2 – 3 mows before reaching the final lawn cut for the winter season.

Find out the reason why you should separate the mower time here!

3. Rake Leaves and Remove Debris

Raking leaves in your lawn garden should be done regularly throughout the winter months. Trees always drop their leaves at any time they want, or a strong-and-frigid wind will do that. You need to rake them all up before the snow comes and cover all autumn leaves under the ground. Winter is a good time to finish it all! You should get started right before the first snow.

Layer of the first snow

Once you rake leaves up, clean up debris in your yard even if you don’t want to brave yourself to do it in the coldest season! Winter storms along with winds and ice often leave leaves on your lawn with tree branches and debris that can cause crown hydration and soil compaction. Wet leaves and debris sitting on your lawn for too long might inhibit new growth of grass seed (even kill them), smother your lawn, allow fungal and pest infestation, as well as build unwanted bare patches.

Lawn fungus

Rake them up and make sure you clean up all debris throughout the winter to keep your lawn grass healthy, especially for higher temperatures to rise again.

4. Fertilize

The same as the raking process, if the ground isn’t frozen, determine the pH level of your soil to know the amount of fertilizer you should add to your lawn. Although in the winter, your grass garden doesn’t need to use fertilizer much because it takes a “hibernate nap”, fertilizing the lawn is to store nutrients to get ready as soon as the spring comes to town. However, just apply the right amount it requires and control it with a spreader, too much fertilizer will burn your garden lawn.

Winterizing slow fertilizer

Also, you can choose a winterizing slow-release fertilizer for the fertilization process in the winter. This fertilizer helps your grass “well bring up” nutrients for spring shoots.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at (206) 265-2940 for West Seattle landscaping TODAY!

5. Water Lawn and Plants

In almost all weather, protecting the lawn against water loss is always a high priority. In the winter, not only snow but also winter winds or a lack of precipitation could also dry out and damage your lawn. However, the lawns in winter don’t need much water as they do in the spring or summer due to water evaporation. You’ll want to reduce the frequency of watering your whole garden lawn in the cold weather.

Winter water lawn

Depending on which type your grass is, the current weather in your state, and the irrigation system, you might know an exact amount of water to apply to your turf – but at least once a week is recommended. In some states, you might experience a drought in winter so it’s better to water more deeply than others a day. Use a garden hose spray in your irrigation system in the winter to keep turf and soil moist during this harsh condition.


1. Apply Mulch

In that dormant season, your trees and shrubs will want extra care with a couple of mulch inches. Mulching is an effective method to protect and control the erosion and water loss of your lawn plants in winter. Add about two inches of mulch to enhance moisture level and maintain a uniform temperature around plants’ roots. Keep warm from the base of plants!

Winter mulch

2. Seeding Cool-season Grass

After mowing or raking or any impact of winter weather, your lawn would have some bare patches which will cause erosion and soil compaction if you wait till the warmer weather. If the ground isn’t frozen, purchase and spread some “cool-season” or “cool-weather” grass which must be labeled on the package. Or there are some grass seeds which grow even on the snow ground that you keep ahead to fix bare patches!

Cool-and-warm season grass seeds

Try to overseed the zoysia grass with annual ryegrass with a spreader you used for the fertilizer work.

3. Prune Winter Plants

Prune most of your plants in late winter – and remember just before spring comes, don’t prune too soon. Pruning essentially is to open a new wound for plants. And pruning in late winter will ensure the fresh wounds are just exposed to winter temperatures in a short time, reduce the stress on the plants and make it easier to heal that wound in the spring.

Prune in winter

4. Protect Young Trees with Wire Mesh

Use wire mesh to wrap around the base of young trees. This is a great idea to keep out any roaming winter animals and protect young trees from being gnawed and damaging their young branches.

Build wire mesh around young trees

5. Take Precautions Against Weather Conditions

One last important thing to finish winter lawn and landscape care in the winter is to really take precautions against winter conditions! Winter is so unpredictable that turf, which is very resilient over the extreme winter, might not tolerate the long run and the harsh conditions of winter. Harden the grass off by tying branches together and gently removing snow from low branches instead of shaking limbs.

Snow covers trees and shrubs

Once you remove snow or ice, weed your garden landscape and clear sidewalks. Remember to monitor the weather forecast to predict and prepare for the next winter damage to your lawn and landscape.

Find our more landscaping services in Bothell WA here!


Salt damage

De-icing products that melt snow or ice might contain salt and damage your grass by drawing water from its roots. This condition will prevent roots from reaching nutrients and create bare spots in your landscape garden. Flush out the soil by deeply watering once the ground temperatures are above freezing, and choose products made with calcium chloride to replace sodium chloride so that you can get rid of salt damage to the lawn.

Calcium chloride ice-melt

Note to remember that do not leave the melting-agent products near turf areas. If not, the salt from those products could leach into the soil and damage the lawn.

Whether you need winter lawn care or landscape care, Green Arbor Landscaping could also help you from the beginning to maintenance work for your lawn afterward. Feel free to call us to get a free estimate now!


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