Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

Preparing Your Lawn for WinterThe growing season is winding down, but that doesn’t mean the end of lawn care. You still need to manage growth and drainage to give your grass a fighting chance at surviving the winter. These tips will help your lawn survive cold, frost and snow to come stronger than ever next spring.

Address Drainage Issues

Compacted soil will let snow melt pool on the surface, promoting snow mold and creating mud that can pull apart root systems.

Aerating should be part of your fall lawn care routine. It doesn’t matter if you use core or solid tines with your aerator as long as the dirt gets redistributed. From there, you can identify and fix problems before they lead to snow mold and other issues in the winter.

Heavy clay soil requires extra care to build up drainage spaces. Working sand, limestone, gypsum and organic material into the soil can help, as can growing plants that thrive in clay. However, don’t expect these solutions to work overnight. It can take years of work for the topsoil to develop the channels needed for drainage.

Your front lawn should slope gently from the house down to the street and be uniform. Fill in any depressions with a mix of soil and compost. If you need to fill in more than a couple inches, use a sod cutter to remove the top layer, add the top dressing, then replace the sod.

Severe drainage issues may require French drains and yard drains. Both drain types can channel water into the sewer system. If you live in an area with high precipitation, like a former swamp or the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest, add some water-loving plants. These will either absorb the water or keep growing when partially submerged.


If your lawn has cool-season grasses, the best time to fertilize is in the fall. Depending on where you live, the best time to fertilize will be in October or November. Applying fertilizer takes advantage of the grass’s shift from leaf to root production. This boosts sugar storage, helping the grass last through the winter. When spring comes, the grass will grow early, pushing out weeds. “Winterizer” blends have added nitrogen for better root performance.

If you live in a climate with mild winters, your grass may stay green all year long. Fall fertilizing will help the grass keep growing through the winter.

Keep Your Lawn Leaf Free

A layer of leaves encourages mold growth, traps moisture and blocks sunlight. Finely chopped leaves can be mulched and reused as fertilizer. If you’re using a Billy Goat vacuum, the impeller blades do this for you.

If you have a large area to clear, a wheeled or stand-on blower will do the job faster than a vacuum. The leaves will still be in one piece, but there are a couple ways you can deal with them:

Billy Goat’s truck loaders do the same shredding as their vacuums, so you’ll end up with compact piles of leaves ready for composting or disposal.

Whole leaves can be turned into fertilizer, but it will take longer. The process is faster if they’re wet and have signs of leaf mold. At this point, they’re already partially decomposed.

Covering Plants

Healthy plants don’t need much protection aside from their root system. Apply a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around perennials and the roots of cold-sensitive trees. This shields them from frost and delays ground freezing.

If you need to protect plants from freezing temporarily, cover them in burlap or polypropylene. Regular plastic, like a trash bag, will work in an emergency. If left on for too long, water can condense on the inside, freezing the plant.

Mowing Height

Once your grass is established from fall overseeding, start lowering your deck height. Your final mowing height should be as little as ½ inch. Make sure the blades are high enough that they aren’t slicing into crowns.

Check Your Lawn for Hidden Obstacles

A hidden chain or nail can turn into a projectile if picked up by a snowblower. Clearing the lawn of these obstacles now will make snow clearing safer this winter.

Need Something for Your Billy Goat Equipment?

Whether you live in the United States or Canada, you can get everything for your Billy Goat from We’re an authorized dealer for Billy Goat and their manufacturing partners including Briggs & Stratton and Honda Engines. That means you can get replacements for every part of your equipment as well as accessories from one place. Ordering is easy: check out our popular parts sections, or do a search for your equipment model. Our search engine breaks down parts into systems, complete with factory diagrams and descriptions. This makes it easy to find exactly what you need and be certain what you’re ordering will fit.

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