Prepping Your Yard for Winter

Milwaukee winters are harsh, and this year will likely be no exception. It is important to perform steps to prep your yard for the winter ahead. When you follow these tips for winterizing your yard, you’re ensuring that when spring comes around your yard will be beautiful once more and less of a headache for you.

Fertilize

It is recommended you fertilize your lawn in October or November. This is because plants respond to external triggers in the fall, such as temperature changes and day length, by slowing growth and shifting food reserves from the the leaves to the roots. This is characteristic of many kinds of plants, including grass. Plant roots remain active in the soil, however, and when you fertilize your grass in the fall you feed these roots and give them nutrients to store for the long winter ahead.

Fertilizing now results in beautiful and healthy grass come spring.

Weed and Test Soil

Be sure to remove any weeds, as they compete with your plants for nutrients and water. You should also perform a soil test on your lawn to test the pH levels. If tests show your soil has excessive acidity, you should apply lime as soon as possible. If tests show that your soil is too alkaline, be sure to apply sulfur before winter rolls around.

Don’t Forget the Garden

If you have a garden:

  • Make sure you harvest any fruits or flowers.
  • Remember to remove any old plant matter and put it in your compost bin to prevent future plant diseases.
  • Rototilling in the fall can make your spring landscaping endeavors go much smoother.
  • If you choose to rototill now, be sure to also apply lime if soil pH levels indicate that you need to. If you wait and apply lime in the spring, it will be too late.

Trees and Shrubs

The damage trees and large shrubs face in winter is often a result of their inability to draw water from the frozen earth. This damage can largely be prevented by watering properly in the fall.

You should avoid watering trees and shrubs in late summer/early fall before the leaves fall. This allows them to harden off for the winter. Then, after the trees have lost their leaves but before the ground freezes, give your trees and shrubs a deep watering. Be sure to cover the entire root area.

Prepare Your Tools

After spending all that time and effort winterizing your yard, it is important not to overlook your tools. Proper storage and maintenance of your tools will make springtime gardening a real (spring) breeze. Our tips:

  • Bring the garden hose in and make sure to turn off its water source to prevent pipes from bursting in cold temperatures.
  • Drain the gas from your lawn mower after you use it one last time. This will prevent the gas from getting gummy and creating future problems for your lawnmower. (It is recommended you do this in late fall to prevent matting under snow.)

Winterizing in the Fall Means a Better Spring!

It may seem like a lot of work, but properly winterizing your yard in late fall will allow you a smooth transition into your landscaping endeavors when spring finally arrives. And don’t forget to check out our article on how to revive your grass after winter.

Tips for Fall Mulching

Mulching is a great way to protect your plants and nourish your soil in anticipation of winter. During the winter, the ground is in a constant cycle of freezing and thawing, and mulching helps to prevent extreme temperature fluctuations in soil that stress your plants out.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Mulch This Fall

1. Mulch With the Best Materials Available to You

Straw is preferable to leaves, which compact, provide less absorption, and resist absorption. If you do decide to use leaves, it is recommended you shred them to help them decompose more quickly, or combine them with other materials (such as straw). Grass clippings and animal manure are also good choices.

Wood by-products, such as bark chunks (pine bark is an especially good choice), provide good insulation. Your local tree service may be willing to provide you with wood chips for cheap or even free.

2. Don’t Mulch Too Deeply

Remember that while you want to have maximum insulation, you also want any excess moisture to evaporate. If you mulch too deeply, it is more difficult for this vital evaporation to occur. The recommended mulch depth is 3 to 4 inches for medium- to coarse-textured materials.

3. Anchor Your Mulch

You want something that won’t blow away come the first winds of winter. Shredded leaves and straw, while good mulching materials, can blow away easily. If you live in a windy area, you may want to consider anchoring your mulch with chicken wire or other material available to you.

4. Don’t Let Mulch Pile Up Around the Trunks of Trees or Bases of Shrubs

This is often referred to as volcano mulching. Volcano mulching will keep your trees and shrubs from drying out properly and can also create the perfect conditions for rot and disease. The mulch area should extend to the drip line of the tree branches or cover a 4- to 5-foot diameter around the trunk.

5. Stay Away From Moldy Leaves

If your leaves have started to decompose, you may not want to use them. Leaf mold compacts tightly and creates a barrier between the air and the soil.

6. Organic Mulch Should Be Composted or Treated Before Use

This will kill insects, weed seeds, and disease mircroorganisms. Composted mulch also tends to have a more uniform texture.

7. Consider Mowing Fallen Leaves

This is an easy and effective way to mulch. Mowing shreds the leaves, allowing them to decompose over the winter. Your grass will thank you for this source of nitrogen in the spring.

8. Think About Your Mulch’s Presentation

While mulch’s functionality is important, you also want a mulch that is visually appealing in your landscaping. As mentioned earlier, composted mulch tends to have a uniform texture, which gives it better curb appeal.

9. Keep Your Mulch Thick

While many people try to save money by spreading a thinner layer of mulch, this doesn’t allow it to properly insulate roots and retain moisture loss. We recommended you maintain a 3-inch layer of mulch.

Remember: It Is Never Too Late to Mulch in Milwaukee

Even if it’s mid-winter, mulching will have a positive impact on your plants come spring. Mulching will ultimately make your spring better and more beautiful.

Follow some or all of these tips to properly mulch your yard in anticipation of the harsh winter ahead. And get over those winter blues by checking out some of our spring landscaping ideas.

How to Prepare a Garden for Winter

Did you know that one out of three households in the U.S. grows their own fresh produce? It’s true!

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there’s no question that growing your own fresh tomatoes, herbs and pretty flowers can have a therapeutic effect. Gardening is good for the body, mind, and planet. However, when winter rolls around in Milwaukee, many home gardeners don’t know how to protect their plants and landscaping elements for the cold.

If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck. Here you can learn how to prepare a garden for winter.

Plant covered with frost, snow falling in the background landscape

Prepping Your Garden for Winter

Leave the Plants in Place

When preparing your landscape or garden for winter—if aesthetics aren’t too important to you—you can allow your plants to die naturally. When this happens, they cover the soil, adding nutrients as they decay.

It doesn’t look great, but the nutrients added to the soil from the dead plants can then be used next spring. Not only does this help next year’s crop or flowers, it can also save you some work.

Compost and Cover

If you want things a bit neater (especially if your garden area is close to your house), you can compost the organic material. The material can then be used for covering other plants, which is why crops used in this way are called cover crops.

Legumes and grasses are commonly used for this. Recently gardeners have also started using various types of brassicas for this, however, many different plants can do the trick.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

If you decide not to put in a cover crop, it’s important to mulch. Doing so protects your roots, soil, insects and other living organisms during the winter. While this means that some “pests” are protected too, the benefits for your landscape definitely outweigh the few negatives.

Take Care of Weeds

If there are some parts of your garden that are lost to the weeds, you still have options. You can cover the offending plants with a layer of cardboard or black plastic to try and weaken and starve them out. Just make sure to leave the covering in place throughout the winter season.

Prepare a Garden for Winter for a Better Spring

Doing what you can to prepare your garden for winter often pays off with easier-to-care-for landscaping in the spring. And, by protecting plants and soil now, you help protect the investment in time and money that you’ve made in them.

If you don’t think you have the time or ability to prepare your garden for winter, consider hiring professionals to do it for you. Hiring pros not only saves you time and effort, it ensures that your garden and landscape get the proper care.

Our team of professional, experienced landscapers can help ensure your garden makes it through Milwaukee’s coldest season. And, if you’d rather enjoy the winter from the warmth of your living room, we also offer snow removal services in Milwaukee for residential and commercial properties.

Contact us today for more information or our rates.

How to Revive Grass After a Long, Hard Winter

There are over 40 million acres of lawns across the U.S. That’s because homeowners love their lawns, and for good reason: Having a healthy, vibrant lawn can not only add to your home’s property value but also help cut pollution.

Following a long winter, you may be wondering how to make grass green again or how to revive dead grass fast. Not to worry: Those brown spots can be repaired!

Try these tips for reviving grass after winter and making your grass green again.

damaged, dead grass

Knowing How to Revive Grass

There are several steps you need to follow to bring back dead grass. These include:

Cleaning Up the Yard

The first step is to remove any leaves, dirt, or debris covering your lawn. This makes it easier to revive brown grass and allows you to find any areas which need extra care.

Aerating the Soil

Soil gets packed down with time and can choke off the flow of nutrients to your grass. Loosening up the soil helps the grass get the nutrients your lawn needs to grow. That’s why aerating, which loosens your soil, is great for bringing back dead grass.

Removing Dead Grass

After a long winter, it’s possible that some of the grass in your lawn is dead. You’ll want to dethatch the lawn to help remove any dead grass.

Using a rake to dethatch the lawn allows the soil and living grass to breathe and get the necessary nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Taking Care of Weeds

As your lawn begins to revive, so will the weeds that try to take over your lawn. It is important to quickly remove any emerging weeds before they have time to spread.

Preventative weed treatments can also help stop weeds before they can grow and become a problem for your lawn.

Dealing with Bare Patches

If you find dead spots in your lawn and are unable to bring back dead grass there, you’ll need to regrow the grass. This means either using grass seeds to regrow grass in the dead spots or using sod to quickly cover the bare patches.

With seeds, you’ll need to find grass seed suitable for your soil type and climate. You’ll also need to plant the seeds early in the season. It’s important to regularly water the area to make sure the seeds take root and grow properly.

If you choose to go with sod, you’ll need to select a species of grass that matches your existing lawn. As with seeds, you’ll need to water daily to make sure the sod takes.

Fertilizing

For your lawn to grow properly, it needs the proper nutrients. Using an appropriate lawn fertilizer in the spring helps provide the necessary nutrients. And, depending on the type of fertilizer you use, it may even also kill weeds.

There are many different types of fertilizer to choose from, including nontoxic and organic fertilizers, so it’s important to research before making a choice.

Knowing How to Make Grass Green

Here in Milwaukee, knowing how to revive grass after winter is a must have. Ithelps keep your lawn healthy in the spring. But remember: You’ll still need to take care of your lawn in the spring to get it ready for summer!

Whether you’re interested in learning about how to care for your lawn or deciding between seed and sod, we have the information you need. We can also help you with all your landscaping and grounds maintenance needs. Contact us today to find out more about our services.

5 Important Tips For Milwaukee Winter Lawn Care

Have you worked all spring and summer making your lawn and landscaping look great? Worried about how your back and front yards will hold up during the sometimes harsh Milwaukee winter weather?

To help you prepare your lawn for the cold weather, we’ve got five winter lawn care tips that will keep your grass looking green and healthy come springtime!

pile of leaves on a lawn

1. Rake the Leaves

While the colors of autumn leaves can give a rustic look to a yard, we recommend raking as part of your winter lawn care routine. Raking will keep the lawn healthier as excess leaves can kill the grass by smothering it over time.

Dead patches of grass the following spring can be prevented by raking regularly.

2. Mow for the Winter

Many people stop mowing the lawn shortly after the first frost and when the grass stops growing rapidly. Our recommendation would be to continue mowing through the fall. Around the middle of November is when homeowners should do their final cut.

When working with a lawn mowing service, ask them to adjust the mower blade to a lower setting. Setting the blade to 2.5 inches is a good way to ensure that the grass doesn’t overgrow in the winter and become a playground for pests that can cause damage.

3. Plant Now for Spring

If the lawn has thin spots just before the cold weather sets in, those spots will remain or get worse by spring. For this reason, we recommend planting new grass seed to thicken up any bare spots. The grass will have a chance to grow strong roots once the temperatures begin to gradually rise in March and April.

To keep the grass green all throughout winter, homeowners could even plant winter grass in early autumn. Doing so can prevent a dried out, winter look on the lawn.

4. Don’t Forget to Fertilize for Winter Lawn Care

Along with planting new grass seed, it’s important to continue feeding the grass during the colder season. Using fertilizer in both early and late fall will help the grass establish healthy and strong roots. Grass with a strong root system will gain its bright green color faster and resist weeds and pests in the spring.

5. Take Care of the Weeds

Speaking of weeds, a proper winter lawn care regimen will include some time spent picking weeds. The most common weeds will begin seeding in the fall, so picking and treating them appropriately will keep a lawn free of them next season.

Commercial weed killing products can be purchased in most grocery and hardware stores. Alternatively, we recommend that homeowners try creating their own organic vinegar weed killer.

Keep Your Lawn in Shape This Winter

By following these five tips for caring for your lawn in the winter, you can cut down on yardwork when spring has sprung!

Want to keep your lawn looking great for all seasons? Visit our blog for more lawn care tips, tricks, and treatments!