Eco-Friendly Winter Lawn Care Preventing Weather-Related Injuries, Using Non-Toxic De-Icers and Debating Lawn Winterizers

Those of you living in the mid to northern parts of America don’t need to worry much about your lawn during the short, cold days between late fall and early spring. But those of you living in an area with mild winters might have to put a little more effort into it for a green spring, as LawnStarter suggests, you won’t have to cut it as often but you should watch it for when it does need to be cut.

Winter Lawn Care. Credit: Marcus Balcher, FlickrCC

Either way, hopefully, things are in great shape because you raked, mowed and watered this fall. So, for lawns that experience a more intense winter, you may think this is the time to put the mower away, relax, and look through the seed catalogs while we dream of spring. However, there are a few things you can do for your lawn, even in the off season.

Preventing Weather-related Injuries to your Lawn

Walk through your lawn occasionally and pick up objects like toys, lawn furniture and branches. Even relatively small items can smother the grass, leaving ugly black patches or dead spots that you’ll have to reseed this spring.

It’s okay to build a snowman now and then, but avoid walking on your lawn too much during the winter months because heavily worn paths are slow to green up in spring.

Clear appropriate pathways and walkways so you and your guests, won’t be tempted to traipse across the frosty turf. By all means, never let your friends and neighbors use your lawn as a parking area – even on New Year’s Eve.

Getting Rid of Ice without Harming the Environment

It’s difficult to de-ice a slick surface in an environmentally friendly manner, but some de-icers are less harmful than others. Avoid use of salt because the sodium can leach into the soil, killing your lawn and contaminating groundwater.

Although sand is okay in small quantities, too much can clog storm drains and negatively impact aquatic habitats.

Look for products containing potassium acetate or calcium magnesium acetate, which are biodegradable, non-corrosive, and relatively safe when used sparingly. You can also try organic, non-clumping kitty litter. It doesn’t actually melt ice, but it provides a good deal of traction and won’t harm your lawn.

Mowing and Raking: In Winter?

Mowing: Winter lawns tend to look untidy and you may be tempted to mow during mild spells. It’s fine to mow if it makes you feel better, but not when the turf is wet or if frosty weather is in the forecast. Newly cut grass is more susceptible to cold and is likely to be damaged if the temperature drops below freezing.

Raking: Go ahead and rake if you missed a few leaves in autumn because too many can smother your lawn. Be careful though; grass can pull up easily when the soil is moist. Toss the leaves on the compost heap when you’ve finished raking, or set them aside and run them through the leaf shredder later.

What is Organic Lawn Winterizer and Should I Use It?

Organic lawn winterizer is actually just a late season fertilizer applied to cool season lawns after the final mowing in autumn and before late November or early December – usually around Thanksgiving. The product, basically a quick-release form of water-soluble nitrogen, helps grass survive a tough winter and triggers vigorous growth when spring rolls around.

You aren’t required to use lawn winterizer and it may be money wasted if your lawn is already healthy. If you decide an organic lawn winterizer might help, be sure to water lightly immediately after applying if rain isn’t expected in the next day or so.  Use only about one-half to one-third of the amount of fertilizer you would normally use; too much can cause unabsorbed nitrogen to leach into the groundwater.

Jackie Greene is a blogger, gardener, and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys creating organic meals for family and friends using the fresh ingredients she produces from her backyard homestead.