Winter Care Tips for Fescue Grass
Winter is right around the corner, which means that most of us are starting to think about how to take care of our lawns. If you’re like me, you don’t get a lot of snow where you live. This is all the more reason for us to keep our grass looking as good as possible! You likely have fescue grass because it is the most common type of grass in the United States.
Fescue is a perennial grass that can withstand cold weather climates, which means it’s perfect for the colder areas of the country. The only problem with fescue is that it needs special winter care to look its best during this time of the year. However, there are many things you can do to help your lawn look green and healthy all winter long. I have tried a few different things over the years to care for my grass during winter. There are 9 tips, in particular, that stand out to make the most difference.
What are some winter lawn care tips for fescue grass? Some common tips include the following:
1. Feed your fescue grass more nitrogen in the fall.
2. Don’t cut your grass as low as possible before winter sets in.
3. Overseed your lawn when it starts to look thin.
4. Keep mowing your fescue during the winter, but stop when it begins to snow.
5. If you don’t have a choice and your fescue gets extremely long, consider using scissors or hedge trimmers instead of a weed eater to keep it at a shorter length.
6. When/if the snow comes down, try not to walk on your grass or shovel near it.
7. Create a shallow basin in your lawn when you’re getting ready to shovel the snow.
8. If you live in a place where it gets extremely cold, use a frost blanket over your grass when we get those really low temperatures at night.
9. Finally, make sure you pay attention to how much sunlight your fescue is getting and water accordingly. Also, don’t forget to use a winter fertilizer, if you haven’t already.
I would love to go into more detail about why these 9 tips are so crucial for your lawn. Once you have an understanding of what your fescue grass needs during the cold months, you’ll be able to keep it greener for a lot longer. Let’s dive in deeper!
What To Feed Your Fescue Grass
It’s important to start providing your grass with proper nutrients during the fall so that it has something to work with throughout the winter. If you’re not doing this, then there’s no way your lawn can stay green for an extended period.
My recommendation is to use a fall fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. When you give your grass a good amount of nitrogen before the winter, it will help keep it healthy and ready to face whatever conditions come. Once winter arrives, you will want to be sure to use a winter fertilizer.
Don’t Cut Your Grass Too Low
Most people may think that cutting their grass as low as possible gives it an advantage during the cold months because there’s less surface area. While this is true, cutting it too short can discourage your grass from continuing to grow.
You’ll notice that fescue grows in clumps. If you cut the grass too low, you will be able to see between the clumps in the yard. This makes it look like there are bald spots all over, which isn’t ideal. Instead of cutting your grass as low as possible, try keeping the height at around 2 inches. This way, you can still see a few clumps in between and it doesn’t look so thin.
Refrain From Over-Seeding
It’s a common practice for people to over-seed their grass in the fall, but this is something that you’ll want to stop doing come wintertime. When you have thin areas of your yard from cutting it too short, it’s best to wait until the next spring to add new seeds.
When it comes to areas where you don’t have any grass at all, such as in between other clumps, try adding a blanket of composted bark mulch instead. This will help hold in some moisture and protect your soil from the cold weather outside.
Continue to Mow Your Grass
Even though you’ll want to decrease mowing your lawn when it gets too cold, there is no need to stop completely. There are some benefits of keeping up with this maintenance over the winter months – the biggest being that it will make your grass easier to start cutting again come springtime. If it hasn’t snowed yet, try to mow your fescue grass before it gets any taller than 2 inches.
Don’t Walk on Snow-Covered Fescue Grass
Walking on snow-covered grass can be a lot more harmful than you think. When the snow melts, it can cause a spike in your lawn’s soil pH. The best way to avoid these changes is to try walking on them as little as possible during wintertime. If you have to walk on your grass, try to walk on the bare spots, not the areas that are covered in snow.
Shovel Near Grass – Not On It
Shoveling is something you’ll want to do near your fescue grass instead of directly on it. When you shovel right onto your lawn, all the salt and de-icers can run right through and get into the soil. There’s a better chance of this happening if you have big patches exposed from over-seeding, so make sure to be especially careful when you shovel near these areas.
The Shallow Basin Trick
Before you shovel any snow, you’ll want to do what’s called the “shallow basin trick”. All you need to do is try and create an area where the snow can sit without touching any grass. The next part is crucial – take your shovel, turn it upside down, and push it gently into the ground so that it forms a small domed circle (a shallow basin).
Once you’ve done this, start shoveling the snow and only the snow inside that circle. By doing this, you’ll be able to prevent any de-icers or salts from running into your fescue grass and killing it.
Try Using a Frost Blanket
If you live in an area where temperatures get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, then this winter care tip is perfect for your yard. A frost blanket acts as a barrier between the cold air and the warmth of your grass. It’s made from a thick, breathable fabric that will keep the snow and de-icers off of your grass. You can find one at your local home and garden store or online.
Water When Needed
Finally, don’t forget to water your fescue grass when it needs it. Depending on the weather, you may need to do this more than once a week. You mustn’t over-water your lawn, so try watering it for about 20 minutes every other day or so until all signs of winter have disappeared.
What If It Snows Frequently?
If you live in an area where it snows quite frequently, then using a frost blanket isn’t always the best idea. This is because you will need to take it off every time there are more than 2 inches of snow on your lawn. That can be a lot of work, so if this is the case for you, then try using a salt-free de-icer instead.
These tend to have less negative effects on your lawn and will still melt the snow. If you have very little grass in areas where it snows frequently, then consider adding some composted bark mulch instead. This will help keep the soil underneath warm during cold weather.
Is The Snow Watering My Grass?
If you’re wondering if all those snow-filled days are providing water for your grass, then the answer is yes. However, it’s not as much as you might think. The snow will only provide an inch or two of water to your lawn and this can all be used up within a day or so. This is why you may need to water your grass during the wintertime if it’s a dry and sunny day.
How Do I Care for Other Plants in My Yard?
If you have other plants besides fescue grass in your yard, then winter care can still be very simple. Most areas where you have bushes and shrubs typically only get a few inches of snow at a time. This makes your job much easier.
First off, don’t bother raking or shoveling anything – just let the snow accumulate. If you have evergreens, spruce trees, or juniper bushes in your yard, then you’ll want to add a thin layer of mulch or pine straw over top. This will help insulate the roots and keep them safe during wintertime.
When Should I Transition to Springtime Care?
The best time to transition from winter to spring lawn care is towards the end of February or early March. This will depend on your area, but around these months the days should be getting warmer and longer. If you’re transitioning from a frost blanket to regular lawn care, then you’ll want to slowly move it away from your yard a few inches every few days.
Year-round care is the best way to maintain a healthy fescue lawn. This means that you need to keep the weeds and pests away during all seasons of the year. However, putting in the work during winter as well is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Give these 9 winter lawn care tips a try this year, it will make a difference!