Texas Lawn Care in Winter

winter flowerDespite the fact that most lawns go dormant during the winter, there are still a few chores you don’t want to neglect this season. It will behoove you and your lawn to get a bit of winter cleaning done when the weather is nice.

Especially here in North Texas, where our winters can often be mild, some growth can still occur during the warmer patches. Additionally, there are a couple of steps you can take to give your yard a leg-up for optimal growth once spring sets it.

Winter Maintenance

Mowing

Most grasses go dormant when the temperatures reach, and remain, below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, any true Texan knows we get those days- or even weeks- of unseasonably warm weather from time to time. If a hot stretch lasts long enough to “wake up” your grass, you may want to break out the lawn mower once or twice this season.

In order to avoid developing mold during the winter, a blade height of 2-2.5 inches is ideal. Grass that’s gained a bit of height over the winter can be mowed on a dry day without risking any damage or vulnerability.

Weeds

If you notice intrusive plants taking root in your yard during the winter, there’s no harm in applying a spot treatment here and there. Just be sure you take care and use precision in the application process, so as not to harm the dormant grass and plants in the immediate area.

For lawns that are prone to crab grass, a pre-emergent treatment can stop the problem before it gets an opportunity to truly take root. This is best applied around February, when your turf grass is still dormant, so that the treatment only targets active growth in the crab grass. 

Some pre-emergent herbicides contain chemical compounds that can only be handled by trained professionals. Reach out to JC’s Landscaping for a service estimate if you believe you’ll need assistance with this process.

Pruning

January and February are good months to tackle some winter pruning in your trees and shrubs. By this point, most deciduous trees will have lost their foliage, making it easy to spot dead or diseased stems and branches.

A set of gardening sheers does the trick for smaller limbs, but you will likely need a chainsaw for large branches. Begin by cutting into the bottom end of the limb first, and completing the cut on the top. Prominent branches should be pruned as closely to the trunk as possible.

Cleaning

On a clear day with no fresh rain or snowfall, your yard will really appreciate a bit of winter cleanup. Fallen branches and bits of debris can weigh down your lawn and garden, eventually causing damage if left sitting for too long.

Even in a completely snow-free winter, piles of organic matter can still begin to rot from rain and humidity. All the more reason to take advantage of that sunny Saturday afternoon to rake up your yard and clean out the areas under your shrubs.

Salt

Salt is the best way to keep an icy safe to walk on. However, it can wreak havoc on your grass and soil. After a snow storm heavy enough to require the use of ice salt, be sure you steer clear of your lawn’s immediate perimeters. If shoveling is necessary to clear a path, avoid tossing salted snow directly onto your yard and garden.

Planting

thin grass

Dormant Seeding

This is the process of planting seeds in January or February, while your established grass bed is dormant. If you meant to do some overseeding last summer but didn’t get around to it, mid-winter is a great alternative. Pick a dry day, and choose whether you prefer using a broadcaster or a slit seeder.

Broadcasters simply disperse the seeds on top of your lawn, leaving them to their own devices to work their way into the soil. Slit seeders, also known as slice seeders, use blades about 3/4 inch long to cut into the grass. This method is considered about 50-60% more effective, as the slicing allows the seeds to fully submerge.

Dormant seeding is actually best in areas that receive regular snowfall, because a blanket of 2 or 3 inches encourages the seeds to root more deeply in your topsoil. However, the practice can still increase growth and density of spring growth even in more temperate areas such as ours. You’ll need to water only once after seeding, to help them settle into the soil.

Trees and Shrubs

Mid-winter is a great time to dig up old plants you no longer want, and establish new trees and shrubs. Bare-root plants will settle in just fine despite the cold air and soil, and will simply remain dormant until spring arrives. Just be sure you consult a professional about which plants fare well for this task, and ask about any breed-specific care regimens.

Protecting Your Trees and Shrubs For the Winter has more great advice on keeping your larger plants happy this season.

Final Thoughts

  • Mowing once or twice can help keep your lawn healthy, if it experiences any winter growth that takes the blades past 2-2.5 inches.
  • Winter weeds can be spot-treated, and crab grass can easily be addressed in late winter with a pre-emergent herbicide.
  • Winter is a great time to prune your trees and shrubs now that they’ve dropped their foliage.
  • A warm day is a great opportunity for winter cleanup, to stay ahead of excessive debris that can damage your yard.
  • After a snow storm, be sure you avoid your lawn and garden areas when applying ice salt.
  • Dormant seeding is an easy way to give thin lawns a leg-up for lush spring growth.
  • New shrubs and trees can be planted during the winter on dry days.

 

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