Applying winter lawn fertilizer is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure cool-season grasses - such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and perennial ryegrass - are healthy in the spring. Grass is dormant during the winter, so your final lawn fertilization should be performed in the fall before the first frost. Although your grass won't be growing in the winter, lawn fertilizer will help strengthen its root system for the cold months ahead. When spring arrives, the nutrient supply from your winter lawn treatment will help kick-start its growth.
Before you use winter lawn fertilizer, check for thatch buildup. If there is more than half an inch of thatch (a layer of organic debris that can accumulate on top of the soil), be sure you remove it before you apply your winter lawn treatment. Otherwise, the layer may hinder the absorption of the fertilizer and cause it to burn your grass. Using sharp mower blades to keep your grass at a healthy length will help prevent thatch from accumulating on your lawn. Core aeration can also reduce thatch, improve overall soil fertility and increase nutrient uptake from your winter lawn treatment.
You should continue mowing your grass until it stops growing for the season. If you don't observe any growth for two weeks or so, your lawn has probably gone dormant. To prepare your lawn for winter, trim your grass to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Grass shorter than 2 inches is more vulnerable to damage from harsh winter winds. Grass taller than 3 inches is more likely to get bent and smothered beneath snow. Longer grass also retains more moisture, which can lead to snow mold. Keeping up with debris and leaf removal will further minimize the risk of lawn disease and infestation.
After you've prepared your lawn for winter, be sure you have the proper equipment for the cold season. If you live in an area where it typically snows, an MTD snow blower will help you clear your driveway and walkways with ease. Before winter, check your snow blower parts - especially belts and blades - for wear and damage, so your equipment is ready to go when the first snow falls.