Nothing fills a homeowner with pride quite like a lush, green lawn. But with unpredictable Colorado weather, keeping your lawn healthy year round is often easier said than done. Taking care of your lawn during the winter can help ensure a healthy yard next summer.
Ashton Michaels, Lawnstarter, offers advice for Colorado homeowners to care for their lawn through cold, dry, and icy winters.
Winter Lawn Care in Colorado
How can you prevent your lawn from being winter-killed in Colorado? One way is to not ignore your yard in the winter; even in the winter, you still need to care for your yard. Your lawn care should include watering and fertilizing like other seasons, even in winter. So, how do you winter water grass?
Reasons to Winter Water
Root damage can occur when homeowners do not water their lawns, shrubs, trees, and perennials during a Colorado winter. Root health affects the well being of the entire plant.
In the winter, the air is dry. There is little precipitation and very little moisture in the soil. Dry conditions and fluctuating temperatures causes lawns, shrubs, and trees to become distressed. Plants in your yard will become damaged if there isn’t a supplemental water source from October through March.
The damage isn’t obvious right away. If the plants are affected during the long dry periods, they will still look perfectly normal when spring arrives. Plants will grow using the food energy which was already stored. It’s only when the temperatures start to rise in late spring or summer that the plants show distress. Weakened plants are unable to fight disease and insect damage.
Lawns are especially prone to damage during the Colorado winter months. New yards, both seed and sod, and lawns exposed to the south or west are especially susceptible. To prevent turf damage to your grass, watering is the best treatment.
Prevent Snow Mold
Winter conditions in Colorado can lead to snow mold. Snow mold occurs in areas where snow has been piled up and along the north side of buildings and along driveways. To prevent snow mold, remove the snow from the grassy areas and avoid large piles in the grass.
A final application of fertilizer appropriately timed, can also protect your grass from snow mold. Mow the grass and apply fertilizer after the grass has stopped growing, about six weeks before it goes dormant.
How-to Winter Water
After you’ve turned off your sprinkler system, continue to water your grass. In Colorado, this period typically runs from November through April. During these months, you should water 1-2 times per month.
Water the lawn when the air temperature is above 40 degrees, as long as the soil isn’t frozen. Water at mid-day if possible so the water has time to soak into the ground and doesn’t freeze. If the water freezes, solid ice could suffocate your lawn and leave it matted.
What to Water
Water everything in your yard that was planted during the last growing season. If the grass, plants, trees, or bushes haven’t been through their first winter yet, then they need to be watered this winter. You’ll also want to water anything that’s exposed to the wind or lots of sun.
After making sure these are watered, then focus on the rest of the shrubs, flowers, ground covers, and ornamental grasses.
What Not to Water
You do not need to winter water any dormant plants and grasses. These include succulents, cacti, blue grama grass, and buffalo grass.
Native plants are acclimatized to Colorado weather, and therefore will naturally dry out in the winter.
Winter watering can help keep your lawn, shrubs, and trees healthy enough to make it through the winter months. Take care of your yard now to make sure all the plants are happy and healthy next summer.
Ashton Michaels is an outdoor living expert, explorer, and regional marketing representative for LawnStarter Denver.