Home Improvement

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

Winter Lawn Care

Winter Lawn CareSelling your home in winter presents a unique set of challenges. The most obvious is your landscaping and lawn. Although your lawn won’t Inspire awe in the dead of winter, you can show is potential by continuing to care for it.

We asked Lawn Care Guru Tony Steine for advice on maintaining your lawn in Colorado Springs during the winter months. Here’s what he had to say.

The unique winter conditions of the Centennial State can make caring for your lawn more of a timing issue than anything as homeowners try to beat the first snowfall. Although winter isn’t the prime growing season for grass, there is still plenty to do before the snow flies to ensure that your lawn bounces back next spring. Transitioning from “fall lawn care” to “winter lawn care” is easy as long as the snow hasn’t yet arrived. Check out these tips on how to care for your Colorado lawn this winter:

Winter Lawn Maintenance

Continue Mowing-Refrain from raising the height of your lawn as longer grass blades can create more chance for diseases once wet spring weather appears. Cut the grass as long as the grass is still growing to keep it at an average length before winter weather arrives. If you don’t want to cut it yourself, you can hire a professional for $42 per service according to data from LawnStarter.

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

High Traffic Areas-Once snow does appear, make sure to keep off the grass as much as possible. High traffic on dormant areas of grass can damage root systems and make it harder for those spots to recover once winter weather is gone.

Create Better Conditions

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

Credit: Guipozjim

Aerate-Choosing to aerate your lawn in Colorado is a great way to allow essential nutrients to reach the underlying grassroots. Aeration cuts out cylinders of the soil and provides sunlight, water, and energy sources to penetrate deep underneath it. Aeration not only creates a stronger lawn but can also make the lawn healthier as roots get access to essential nutrients. Consider renting an aerator to get the job done or aerate your lawn manually using a shovel or specially designed aeration shoes. Aerate every other year to keep your yard healthy and strong.

De-Thatch-Thatch buildup can happen to any homeowner as grassroots and debris can build up underneath a healthy lawn. Make sure to take steps to rid your lawn of thatch that could be suffocating the root system below. Consider using a dethatching rake that can help loosen the dead, mangled parts of the grass or possibly hire a lawn care company to use a power dethatcher to get the job done quickly.

Apply Energy Sources

Fertilizer-Adding fertilizer to your lawn is a great way to make sure that it receives the energy that it needs to withstand a long winter and green up quickly in the spring. Choose a slow release fertilizer that you can quickly spread over the lawn in pellet form. This fertilizer will provide a steady stream of nutrients to the lawn which helps roots withstand the frigid Colorado winters. Slow release fertilizers will also give the roots enough energy come spring to boost plant growth and ensure that your lawn bounces back quickly after a long winter. Be careful to follow directions closely as too much fertilizer in one spot can burn the grass creating unsightly brown spots.

Compost-Compost can be used on the lawn or as fertilizer for your cold season plants. Use this natural energy source to support the soil that hosts the grass. Compost is an organic material that includes natural forms of vegetation that have been broken down with the help of microorganisms. It is excellent to apply to lawns in late fall or early winter as the colder temperatures allow it ample time to absorb into the soil slowly. Consider using compost from your compost bin or purchasing bags of natural compost from a local garden center.

Mulch Fallen Leaves-Many homeowners still have plenty of fallen leaves on their lawns come early winter. Instead of bagging up the leaves to throw away, consider using this natural resource as energy for the lawn. Mulch leaves using a leaf mulcher, or your lawn mower, to cut them down into small pieces that will be easier to break down into the soil. Fallen leaves are a great way to naturally boost the nitrogen levels of the lawn making them a valuable resource that shouldn’t be tossed away.

Address Issues

Bare Spots-After a busy summer season, many homeowners will notice that thin or bare spots of their lawn begin to emerge after too much use. Consider these high traffic areas of your lawn and add new grass seed to these areas before frost arrives. Add new seed in a thin layer of the soil and water daily to encourage quick growth. Bare areas are also a prime spot for weeds to appear due to the lack of plant competition.

Weed Control-Early winter is a typical time for many homeowners to see the appearance of weeds in the lawn. Cooler temperatures may slow down grass growth, but weeds can usually grow reasonably quickly despite the cooling temperatures. Make sure to apply weed control to the lawn to keep weeds away and pull any larger weeds that have gone undetected. Keeping your lawn weed free throughout the winter is essential to encourage healthy and robust growth come spring.

Caring for your lawn in the winter is essential to make sure that it can quickly bounce back once spring weather arrives. Continue maintenance as long as the grass is growing and make sure to keep off dormant grass once the frost has come. Create better lawn conditions by aerating and dethatching the lawn to allow nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil. Applying energy sources, such as fertilizer, compost, and mulch, will also help give the lawn enough nutrients to last through the winter. Also, consider tackling the bare spots and keeping weed growth down to keep the lawn strong and healthy.

Investing in your lawn during the early parts of winter is a great way to ensure you’re your lawn will continue to grow well in the future. Consider all of these tips when caring for your Colorado lawn this winter.

Tony Steine has a passion for teaching others about everything in their garden. Tony will happily show you what he has done with his green thumb with a tour of his flourishing backyard. He loves spending his spare time using the fresh food from his garden to try new recipes in the kitchen.

PPRBD Building Permits for Home Improvement

**Updated Dec 2017**

With just about any home improvement in El Paso and Teller counties, homeowners are required to pull a permit with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) in Colorado Springs… anything from basement finishes, decks, electrical/plumbing updates, water heaters, furnaces, adding outbuildings… the list goes on! Their website is relatively user-friendly.

What we know about PPRBD

They often get a bad rap for high fees, very structured property visit guidelines, and being extremely particular. If we keep in mind that these codes exist to keep us safe, then hopefully we can all have a great attitude about the process. The codes do change almost annually, and they have a lot to keep up with. If you request a visit on building inspection, as long as you request by 8 am, they will come the same day. (see hours listed in chart below)

As you can imagine there are hundreds of thousands of homes here, and they do everything they can to remain organized. The rules are all posted online and homeowners can pull their own permits, general contractor not required, but all the same rules apply. I do not think their fees are really all that high.

Why you might contact PPRBD for a permit

If you are doing any number of projects on your home, you might need to contact them. Here are some of the most common reasons, but there are probably hundreds:

  • building a home (yes the owner can do this themselves, all the same requirements apply)
  • finishing a basement (owner can be the general contractor or contractor can, all the same permit fees & rules apply)
  • adding a utility service to a property
  • moving electrical, gas, water service (new plumbing location for any fixtures or electrical hook-ups)
  • adding electrical, gas, water service (i.e. hot tub, new laundry hook-up location, new fireplace, etc)
  • moving or adding mechanical systems (i.e. central air, water heater, etc.)
  • structural changes (i.e. moving/removing a supporting wall, changing a door or window location, etc.)
  • replacing any mechanical system (furnace, water heater, humidifier, central air)
  • decks attached to the home
  • adding buildings to a property (have to meet PPRBD requirements, as well as any pertinent HOA, covenants, set-backs, county building code, etc.)
  • adding a ceiling fan

For any of the above services, inviting PPRBD into your home means they will likely also check your smoke and CO detectors, so make sure those are up-to-date.

My personal experiences with Regional

  • We had the unfortunate issue last summer of having to terminate an agreement with a contractor mid-bathroom-remodel. It was extremely stressful. So 4 permits had been pulled – general building, heating, plumbing and electrical. And we were in a skeleton of the bathroom we had envisioned. As we approached new contractors to assist us, we realized much of the work was finalized and could be moved into our name. The contractor that helped us finish also helped us with PPRBD. My husband is really handy and did the work himself with the assistance of a contractor that worked on our kitchen. The plumber had fortunately been paid from beginning to end of the project. When my husband called them, we were stressed, but they were very helpful getting him to the right person with the answers. They voided permits and re-opened them in our name so we could conclude the project. Our electrician had skipped town, taking advantage of several customers, fortunately not us!
  • I also had a client do a bunch of work himself, wanting to list his home with Springs Homes without appropriate permits. We are all about honesty and told him he must openly disclose the details of the non-permitted work all over the MLS listing, get professional plumber and electrician to sign off on the work, and even demolish some of the work done. He was concerned about the time and expense of going through Regional, but he would have saved time & money had he done it from the start! For more about how to pull your own or requirements, here is that website www.PPRBD.org. Happy (and safe) Home Improvement!!

The moral of the story (this blog) is that while our local Building Department is a big machine, they have been very helpful in many cases and even friendly. I’m sure it’s a stressful job, and I strongly believe the safety of the homes in our counties is of utmost concern. I have learned so much from the inspectors visiting our home over the years!

Update of Rules

As I mentioned, there are changes annually, here are just a few I know of, again, I’m sure there are hundreds I don’t know:

  • Effective July 2011 Carbon Monoxide detectors are REQUIRED! We cannot sell homes without them. If you open any permit, expect the inspectors to check that your CO detectors are up to code (1 within 15 feet of every sleeping area/bedroom).
  • There are new requirements for arc-fault outlets & switches.
  • When you replace a water heater, the subsequent gas line requires replacement as well. (Many people try to replace water heater by just buying a new one and popping it in the spot where the old one was… easy peasy… well, not so much because you still need a permit.)

Backlog of permits waiting for approval

Occasionally there is a backlog of inspections, for instance, the fires of 2012 & 2013 and the catastrophic hail storm in July 2016 caused a variety of back-ups. If there is a home trying to close on the resale market, it’s possible during these backlog events that permits cannot be closed before closing happens. It might behoove homeowners and buyers to get a written letter from contractors guaranteeing work will be complete/corrected if there are any hang-ups in the permit process.

PPRBD Office Hours

Lobby hours are 7:30AM – 4:15PM MDT M-F

Inspectors (Office Hours)7:30AM – 8:30AM719-327-2880
Plan Review9:00AM – 11:45AM & 1:00PM – 3:45PM719-327-2885
Permits7:30AM – 4:15PM719-327-2883
Licensing7:30AM – 12:00PM & 1:00PM – 4:15PM719-327-2887
Enumerations/ Floodplain9:00AM – 11:45AM & 1:00PM – 3:45PM719-327-2960

Pikes Peak Regional Building, www pprbd org


Tiny Trees – Colorado Seedling Program


When we first moved onto acreage, we were in the great rolling hills northeast of Colorado Springs. Our property was not treed and the only growth to speak of was weeds. Now in our second home on acreage, we looked into a seedling program offered by the state. Crazy as it is, I recall doing this when my family moved to Castle Rock, CO in 1988. We planted a huge tree line and now the trees are beautiful and tall. Well, the state of Colorado seedling program is great! Rather than me try to explain, I’ve copied verbatim the email we recently received. If you live on more than 2 acres you qualify to buy the inexpensive seedlings to build up tree growth on your property for a variety of reasons.

Rose Long, Colorado State Forest Service, Woodland Park wrote us (and others) the following email: “The Colorado State Forest Service Woodland Park District is now accepting orders for the 2017 Trees for Conservation seedling tree program, with seedlings ordered now to be distributed in late April. The program enables landowners to obtain seedling trees at a nominal cost to be used for any conservation or land rehabilitation purpose, including the enhancement of tree species diversity that improves long-term forest health.

The purpose of the program is to encourage landowners to meet conservation goals, such as planting seedlings on properties with little to no vegetation, reducing erosion and enhancing wildlife habitat. The program also allows landowners to plant trees and shrubs in areas affected by wildfire or insect and disease, such as beetle-kill or mistletoe infestation.

Michael Till, a forester with the CSFS Woodland Park District, says he hopes the program will help landowners make a personal commitment to their properties through tree planting. Planting seedlings can help improve the quality of a property through such benefits as:

  • re-establishing vegetation
  • stabilizing soil and reducing soil erosion
  • controlling snow drifts
  • improving species biodiversity

When contemplating which species to plant, landowners should consider elevation, property slope/aspect and soil type. Some of the most successful species in El Paso, Teller and Park counties are caragana, ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce and piñon pine. The Woodland Park District also sells a variety of seedling survival accessories, including wind shades, tree guards, fertilizer tablets and weed barrier fabrics.

Orders made by April 4 will be available for pickup at the CSFS Woodland Park District office on April 28-29. For more information go to Seedling Tree Program , or call 719-687-2921. To obtain a up to date order form please click on the following link:http://csfs.colostate.edu/media/sites/22/2016/12/2017_CSFS_WPDS_Seedling_Tree_Order_Form_12-15-2016.pdf

I hope you find this beneficial, especially if your property could use more trees! And if you’re looking for a home on acreage, give me an email or a call!


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A Little Do-It-Yourself Update For Anyone

My family recently completed a remodel of most of our main level (living, kitchen, dining)… Floor demo + new, cabinets, removed structural wall, added beam, counters…it was a gut job and we love the new. But it took a lot of work, mostly by contractors.

We did a couple tile floor & backsplash projects ourselves, and fortunately my husband and I work well together! Tile isn’t for the faint of heart, and you have to have the right tools! I wanted to share another little project we did ourselves. Anyone can do this. We were putting in gorgeous new dark floors and frankly I couldn’t stand to bear the thought of looking at our nasty vent covers! I wanted to buy all new. However, I’d seen the idea somewhere (not sure where, because I’m not on Pinterest). I thought we’d try it, and if it turned out ugly, we could still buy new vent covers. If you look at the pictures I post below, the brass ones were seriously disgusting. Now I love them!


1) Take out the old vents…

2) scrape them down with steel wool… 

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3) prime with a spray can (maybe twice)….

4) spray paint with your color of choice (definitely twice! with drying time in between). 

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They look SOOOOOO much better!!! The large one on the right I didn’t get a before photo, but it was white and obviosuly wouldn’t work for this cold-air return built into the cabinet here. In many cases, with carpet or wall/ceiling vents, the black might look really weird. You could freshen them up with white or pewter color. he black looks good in dark floors and cabinets.  


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