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October 24, 2013

How to get your lawn ready for winter

(Continued)

In its advice on winter lawn prep, Better Homes and Gardens suggests a new layer of mulch will help protect the grass over the harsh winter months. Think of the much as a blanket – not to keep the soil warm so much as to keep the soil temperature even.

Prime time

HGTV, which dispenses homeowner advice on cable TV, says the fall is also prime time for sowing grass seed. It's an especially good time for cool weather grasses as it gives them time to develop a root system before freezing weather arrives.

"While taking care of your outdoor space can require time, effort and braving the elements, the reward is seeing how a well-maintained lawn contributes to greater quality of life and enjoyment of your home," said Jason Henderson, associate professor of turfgrass and soil sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Henderson spends part of his time maintaining athletic fields that must stand up to hundreds of feet clad with cleats. He's come up with five steps for homeowners who would like their lawns to look like a golf course.

Five tips to a great lawn

1. Proper mowing. Grass needs to be cut to the proper height and mowed at the proper frequency. Generally, cool-season lawns should be mowed once a week between three and three and a half inches, alternating the direction each time.

2. Feed your lawn a proper diet. Just like a person, a lawn can build up strength to fight off disease. Again, here is where a soil test will prove useful to tell you what you need to feed it.

3. Aeration--the process discussed earlier. Those little holes really will allow your lawn to breathe.

4. Keep pests and weeds at bay. Your lawn will not only look better but will be a safer, more even surface for children at play, reducing stumbling and triping.

5. Keep your lawn hydrated. When Mother Nature doesn't provide enough rain, turn on the lawn sprinkler. Here, timing is critical. Watering is most effective early in the morning, to minimize excess moisture from negatively affecting your lawn. Applying water during the late morning or early evening can extend the amount of time the grass stays damp, making your lawn more susceptible to disease.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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