Keeping a Winter Lawn Alive for a Springtime Home Sale
Despite its crunchy, brown appearance, your lawn doesn’t die when the cold season starts. In fact, below the surface, your green grass is just waiting to burst forth come spring sunshine. Yet, until then, you need to be careful to help your lawn survive the frigid winter – especially when you expect to move sometime next spring and need a lush lawn to attract eager buyers.
— Jessica K????pp (@SimGuruJessica) December 15, 2016
This guide should answer all your winter lawn care questions, so when the birds return and the buyers venture forth, you can show off a beautiful, green lawn.
1How Much Attention Does My Lawn Need During the Winter?
If you hate the idea of trudging into the snow to care for a lawn you hope to sell soon, you’re in luck: There isn’t much work you need to do to keep your lawn alive during the harsh parts of winter. When the weather gets cold, grass acts like deciduous trees and goes dormant, largely retreating underground until rain and sunshine come to replace winter snow and clouds. While your lawn hibernates during the winter, there isn’t much you can do to keep it alive. By midwinter, your grass is prepared to be beautiful and lush during the spring – or it won’t.
In the future, you should know that fall is the time to prep your lawn for the cold months ahead. Sometime before the first freeze, you should fertilize your lawn, slowly decrease your lawn’s height to about one inch, and aerate the soil to prevent compaction. If this sounds like too much work, you can hire lawn care specialists like TruGreen Canada to do it all.
2Does My Lawn Still Need Food and Water?
Your lawn isn’t dead, but it isn’t exactly alive, either. Just like you shouldn’t trust a sleeping person to eat and drink, you shouldn’t expect your dormant lawn to be able to take in fertilizer and water. In fact, if your area is frequently under snow and ice during the winter months, trying to give your lawn a drink could easily kill it. Water on the blades of grass and in the soil turns to frost and ice, which tears grass apart irreparably, leaving vast swaths of ugly brown lawn in the spring.
3Is It Okay to Walk on My Lawn When It’s Hibernating?
When grass is brown and crunchy, many people forget that it is still alive and prone to damage. A few trips across your lawn during the cold weather months shouldn’t do lasting harm, but you should definitely avoid excessive traffic. For example, daily trips across your lawn from the street to your front door will likely compact the soil and crush the roots, leaving an ugly brown streak across your lawn just in time for springtime sales season.
To dissuade shortcuts across your fragile winter lawn, you should keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Perhaps more importantly, you should make sure there is plenty of parking on your driveway or curb, so guests and family members won’t try to park on your hibernating lawn. Even light vehicles, like bikes, can create ruts in the soil that kill your grass, making your yard unsightly.
4When Should I Start Seeding for Spring?
You probably should have done this already, too. Seeding is most effective when soil temperatures are about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which typically occurs around late fall. Though your grass might look lifeless from above, it remains active in the soil; new seeds will throw down deep roots throughout the winter months and emerge in spring as bright-green shoots.
If you missed the deadline for seeding, you don’t need to fret. It is possible to overseed in early spring to fill in dead patches and bring your lawn back to beautiful, sale-worthy health.
However, the timing for spring seeding must be perfect: Too early, and the seed will die in a surprise late-winter freeze, but too late, and your grass won’t have time to mature before summertime scorching. If you aren’t sure about proper seeding procedure, it’s best to call an expert.
5What If I Want to Sell My Home Now?
It’s unlikely that you will be able to revive your lawn to lush, green majesty during the winter months, especially if it has already gone dormant. If you must move before springtime, you should consider keeping your yards clean and perhaps decorating with appropriate winter décor, such as votive lights lining walkways, evergreen potted plants, or attractive lawn ornaments.
To be fair, few buyers are going to expect your lawn to look summer-ready in the middle of January, but you should still strive to make your landscape as appealing as possible until a sale goes through.