RZ Asks a Pro Landscaper: How Should You Prep Your Yard for Winter?

Now that it is officially fall, if you live in a four season area you’re likely preparing your yard for the cold weather months. Fall is one of the most important times of the year for lawncare, so we asked lawncare expert Sam, owner of Progressive Lawn Service, for some helpful tips to make sure your lawn and plants come back better than ever next year.


When should your last mow be?
It depends on where you live. I typically do my last cut of the season in November here in Southern Maryland because it doesn’t get cold here until late January. But for the states up north, they could stop cutting in late October if the weather is cooler. Southern states will have to keep up with lawn care much longer.

What steps should be taken to care for your lawn in the fall?
Some important actions to ensure your grass stays healthy at the end of the year and comes in strong the next year need to happen now.

  1. Do a nice low cut of the grass
  2. Dethatch your grass (if your yard needs it) to help loosen the top layer of the soil if you plan to seed. If you are doing it yourself, you can use a dethatching rake which is available at most lawn and garden stores.
  3. Aerate your lawn to allow moisture and nutrients to sink into the ground. You can either hire a company or do it yourself by renting an aerator.
  4. Overseed your lawn, adding seed into existing grass to thicken it up for the coming year.
  5. Use starter fertilizer and plenty of water after reseeding. After your last cut it’s a good idea to feed your lawn a nice meal of Nitrogen heavy fertilizer for the winter which will keep it green longer and give it plenty of nutrients for its winter nap. 


Do plants and shrubs need to be pruned in the fall?
Fall is a good time to prune back plants and shrubs. The harsh heat of the summer is gone and won’t harm them, and a nice pruning will ensure they come back beautiful the following year. Some plants need to be pruned heavily, such as, Hostas, Daylily, Phlox, and Lilies, so they can re-bloom the following year.

Do you recommend covering up plants / flower to protect during the winter?
We don’t get super harsh winters here in southern Maryland so it’s not necessary to cover your plants, but further up north it could definitely be something that benefits plant health. I would recommend if you experience harsh winters!

Do you have any additional clean-up tips?
I usually try to make sure I have as many leaves up as possible before the last cut. Whether it’s mulching them up or blowing them off and collecting them. Ensuring the leaves are off the grass will make sure the lawn is getting the sun and water it needs, especially after all the prep work for winter is done! Typically, the last cut is done when the leaves are done falling so you shouldn’t have to worry much anymore about the lawn collecting any more leaves. 

What safety equipment do you recommend while working on your lawn?
I wear my RZ Mask M2.5 Mesh for lots of things. I have a lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis, so wearing my mask while doing lawncare is important to me. I wear it while cutting lawns, sharpening my mower blades to reduce the inhalation of metal dust, and while applying organic fertilizer. I barely even sneezed during peak allergy season while wearing it and I have had to cut grass in some extremely dry situations! I always recommend that people wear a dust mask for protection from any dust and allergens - it definitely helps me throughout my day.

I also use eye protection and ear muffs when mowing, blowing leaves or anything dusty to protect myself. 


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