Get Ready for Winter!

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter. And with just a little preparation this fall, you can head off a whole lot of headaches come spring.

So before the first snow flies, get out there and liberally spread a 5-foot band of gypsum over the turf along roadsides, walkways, or any other surfaces that could be hit by salt from your town’s de-icing trucks. Then mix 1 cup of dishwashing liquid and ½ cup each of ammonia and beer in a 20 Gallon Hose-End Sprayer, and apply the solution over the gypsum to the point of runoff. Your soil and grass should sail through the winter in fine shape.

Where your roadside grass is concerned, you have to take whatever the highway department dishes out. But in the rest of your yard, you don’t have to put up with one iota of salt damage. The next time you wake up to an ice-covered patio, walkway, or driveway, reach for one of these kinder, gentler helpers:

  • If you simply want to turn the ice into a nonslip surface, cover it with cinders, sand, or wood ashes.
  • To melt the ice, use alfalfa meal or a pet-safe de-icer. These critter-friendly formulas are also harmless to grass, landscape plants, and wooden surfaces like decks and porches.

Of course, salt damage isn’t a problem in warm regions, but there is one winter nuisance: While cool-season grasses stay green until the snow flies, warm-season types turn brown at the first touch of frost. The simple solution: Overseed in October with annual ryegrass. It’ll take off in a flash, stay green all winter, then fade away just as your warm-season turf is gearing up for a new season in the sun.

For more terrific garden tips, tricks, and tonics to get you through any season, check out my book—New Impatient Gardener—FREE for 21 days! It’s chock-full of my all-time favorite hints, helpers, and how-tos.