It seems like just yesterday we were spoiled with blue skies and colorful leaves on the trees—the calm before the cold front that blew it all away. Yep, just like that, everything dropped along with the temperature. But there’s a bright side to these colder, darker days if you maintain a glass half full attitude about the onset of winter—and the shift that goes with it. Really. If you take the time to prep your yard before the snow hits, it will spring back to life even healthier once it thaws. That’s something to look forward to, right? And it doesn’t take long to properly protect your beloved yard from the harsh conditions ahead. So start NOW and reap the beautiful benefits later. Here’s how…
One of the most important things you can do to winterize your lawn is to rake up the leaves. A thick carpet of wet leaves will turn a lush lawn into a dirt patch come spring, especially if they freeze. But if you have a mulching mower, and the layer of leaves is light, you can merely mow over them to create chopped compost that will feed your lawn nutrients throughout the cold months. No raking required.
While you have that rake out, dig it in a little deeper and dethatch any dead grass that has collected between the soil and the good grass. Too much thatch will block essential nutrients, so get out there and get to dethatching before it all builds up and becomes a bigger hassle.
Late fall is a great time to give your lawn one last healthy helping of fertilizer. Your grass will suck up anything you give it right now to prepare for the lean months ahead. So treat it to one last fertilizer feast and it will thank you by looking extra green and lush in the spring.
Just before winter, cut your grass short so heavy snow or frost won’t mat it down, suffocating tender roots.
Spread a layer of grass seed over the entire lawn to ensure those hearty, pesky weeds like crabgrass and dandelions don’t overtake a thin lawn in the spring. Do this sooner than later to give the roots time to settle in before their long hibernation.
Get Rid Of The Dead Stuff
Pull out any plants that look slimy, dead, or unhealthy in any way. You don’t want pests or harmful diseases spreading through the patch over the winter. And definitely don’t toss them in the compost pile, for the same reason. Instead, burn or bag them. Also, yank out those annuals, roots and all, because they’re eventually going to die—if they haven’t already. Dead plants discourage growth in the spring and encourage garden-killing bugs to move right in and make themselves at home.
Prep The Perennials
Unlike annuals, perennials don’t die in the winter; they merely go dormant, so you’ll want to protect them. Apply a nice warm layer of mulch or chopped leaves over them to keep them cozy in the cold. Hay, straw, pine needles, and peat moss are good lightweight mulches that won’t smother the roots. And be careful not to accidentally pull up your perennials, which look as dead as those annuals when they’re dormant. You know your garden better than that, right?
Keep All The Pretty Plants
Any plants that stand up straight and have decorative seed heads, like thistles, coneflowers, and sunflowers should stay put, just as they are. No paring necessary. These winter worthy plants add beauty to the garden, as well as, provide food and sanctuary for birds to nest and butterflies to lay eggs.
Cover It With Compost
Spread one to six inches of compost over your entire garden to enrich the soil with necessary nutrients over the winter. Compost can be made of leaves, garden clippings, food waste, and manure. Or just buy a big bag of it. By adding compost now, there’s plenty of time for it to break down into rich soil for next season’s annual display.
Don’t Forget The Bulbs
Fall is the best time to plant spring beauties like daffodils, crocuses, tulips, and hyacinths. Each bulb should be buried three times deeper than its height, and then it should pop up right on schedule. Perfect.
Odds And Ends Care
- Empty Your Outdoor Containers so they don’t crack over the winter. Store them indoors, upside down.
- Remove All The Water From Your Hose, roll it up, and put it away.
- Cover Your Compost Pile with straw or plastic before the snow falls.
- Clean Off Your Garden Tools and store them indoors or in a shed. Oiling them with vegetable oil will keep them rust-free for the winter.
- Drain The Fuel Tank Of Your Mower and any other power equipment. Follow the winter maintenance suggestions in the owner’s manual if you’re unsure about it.
Now relax. You’ve done everything you can do to protect your cherished surroundings from the impending cold conditions ahead. Brrrrrr. Go get a mug of something hot.
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