You’ve likely spent all summer enjoying and caring for your lawn and yard, especially this year with spending more time at home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are dropping, you’ll want to make sure that all of your hard work isn’t lost as soon as the cold weather settles in.
So take advantage of a sunny fall day and complete these seven pre-winter yard care tasks to ensure your lawn, garden, and outdoor entertainment areas survive the harsh temperatures and are ready to burgeon beautifully come spring.
1. Repair any hardscape features
Regardless of if you live somewhere with harsh winters like Boston, MA, or somewhere with a more moderate climate such as Miami, FL, repairing any hardscape features is a critical pre-winter yard care task to ensure the safety of those around you.
Repair any cracked steps, walkways, or driveways before the weather becomes icy. If left alone, damaged areas could deteriorate over the winter and lead to unsafe conditions for your friends and family. If you notice splintering on your deck, you should treat it and seal it properly before the colder months set in.
PRO TIP: “Dry laid flagstones that have become wobbly or that have settled creating a puddle/trip hazard should be lifted out of place, and re-leveled using stone dust or decomposed granite/quarry fines as the re-leveling agent. Pry the flagstone up with a pry tool, smooth out the stone dust using a square finishing trowel, and re-seat the flagstone into place with a dead blow mallet.” – Devin Devine, Devine Escapes
2. Tighten your railings
When repairing walkways and steps, take some extra time to tighten your railing bolts. Loose railings can cause unnecessary accidents and injuries. Similarly, be sure your fixtures, shutters, and other outdoor features are securely in place and able to withstand the stress of winter storms.
3. Store away patio furniture
Be sure to wash your patio furniture and other outdoor furnishings before winter arrives. Then store these items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and cover any pieces you can’t fit in your garage or shed. Lightweight furniture like plastic chairs should be stored so they don’t blow away or become worn and brittle.
PRO TIP: Jim Henson of Fairfield Wash and Seal shared, “For our clients here in Fairfield County, Connecticut we offer complete cleaning and storage services for all outdoor furniture and land ornaments. This service kind of evolved out of necessity as here in Southern New England our four seasons require homeowners to take this extra step to clean and prep their outdoor spaces. We see homeowners reaping year-round benefits. First, you increase the lifetime value of your outdoor furniture then you also cut your spring clean up and preparation tasks in half by having properly stored and sealed your furniture.”
4. Winterize your lawn
One of the most important pre-winter yard care tasks is to aerate and reseed your lawn during the fall season. A healthy fall lawn will ensure lush spring landscaping and help you avoid unsightly bare spots during the colder months. As an extra measure, be sure to add winter fertilizer to the lawn to ensure that roots penetrate your soil.
5. Trimmed branches are a must for your yard care
As you check your landscape, be sure to inspect trees and shrubs. Remove dead limbs that could fall during inclement weather. Additionally, be sure that you clear away branches near power lines or other property features.
PRO TIP: “Pruning your healthy trees by removing any dead, dying, or out of place branches is vital this time of year. It is this process that boosts a tree’s strength, allows it to withstand extreme winter conditions better, and protects your property. The last thing you want is heavy snow or ice to cause dying branches to fall and damage your home.” – Jackson Tree Service
6. Mulch leaves
A thick layer of leaves can suffocate the grass below. If you don’t choose to rake and compost your fall leaves, you could mulch them using a mulching mower. If you have rose bushes or other perennials that require some insulation, you can also use leaves to layer around the bases of these plants.
PRO TIP: “Leaf removal isn’t something that you can put off because no one knows when the first flakes of snow will fall. If you don’t act now, snow-covered leaves will completely destroy your lawn by suffocating the grass underneath. Plus, rotting vegetation from annuals and perennials looks unsightly and will create a space for disease and insects to harbor over winter. You can eliminate some of the heavy lifting associated with leaf removal if you continue mowing the grass and leaves with a mulching blade. The chopped-up leaves will breakdown into beneficial nutrients for your lawn and the leaves can be used as an insulation for the perennial in your garden.” – Tiberius (Ti) Woods, Landscaping 365
7. Screen plants
Be sure to protect your perennials and young trees from the nibbling of wintertime creatures. You can encircle plants with chicken wire to better protect them during the long winter. You can also use commercially made tree guards to prevent animals from damaging young trees and shrubs.
PRO TIP: “If you have a new tree, try to put a blanket around the base so it doesn’t get any frost cracks when freezing temperatures arrive.” – Sid Mourning Tree Service
Now is the time to get your yard in order before the rough weather of winter arrives. Once these winter yard care tasks are complete, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is prepared for the winter months ahead.