When the fall days start to feel crisp and the sunlight dwindles in the sky, you know it’s time to winterize your lawn. The question on many homeowners’ minds, however, is where to start. It can feel like a huge undertaking just to put your garden to bed and get your land ready to face the bitter cold of winter so that you can reap benefits come spring. It is a big job, but there are some items on your winterizing list that are more important than others.
In a nutshell, there are a few things that are must do’s before you head inside for winter hibernation:
Mow the lawn one last time
By setting your mower to the lowest setting and giving your lawn a nice buzz cut, your soil will be able to dry out much quicker come spring. For you, this means a lusher lawn with less muddy patches. Do one better by hitting that “mulch” setting on your mower; the cut blades of grass will put nutrients back into the soil.
Plant bulbs, shrubs, fall annuals, and divide perennials
If you want your garden to thrive next year, you will need to get down and dirty now. Plant spring bulbs so they can overwinter. There is nothing better than the beautiful yellow of a daffodil bursting to life from a mound of snow. Take some time to divide any perennials that had profuse growth this past summer and plant extras around your garden. This way, you will save money on purchasing plants when the spring and summer days burst into bloom.
Clean up gardens and protect soil beds
There is a theme happening here: Work now to enjoy a better spring lawn and garden. If you want to have rich soil in your vegetable beds for spring planting, make sure to clean out debris and lay down a layer of compost now. You can also plant a cover crop such as millet, rye or barley, which will grow fast and then decompose into the soil to protect your garden from erosion.
Similarly, your flower beds can be cut back. However, leave any perennials on tall, stalky stems for the enjoyment of birds and other wildlife. (And don’t cut back those shrubs that bloom on “old growth” like some hydrangeas and lilacs!) If you have a bunch of leaves in your lawn, mulch or shred them and place them directly in your flower beds for an easy way to protect soil and plants during the winter months.
Clean out gutters
Although fall leaves look beautiful on the trees, they do pose a problem when they fall into a clump in your gutter. As winter progresses and snow piles on your roof or gutter system, the leaves can block the flow of water. The best way to prevent this is to clean out your gutters or hire a professional to do it. If you go the DIY route, just make sure to take proper precautions, especially if you find yourself climbing up a ladder.
Take care of your tools and outdoor furniture
Give your tools a good wash and even a coat of oil to prevent rust. Taking care of your tools now means they will be ready to work for you come spring. Also make sure to put any outdoor furniture away, cover it or remove cushions that could become weathered. If you are concerned about your deck, you can give it a nice power wash to hinder the growth of mold and mildew during the wet, cold months of winter.
Although late fall is a time when many people start to think about what holiday lights they should string on the exterior of their home, it is important to prioritize winterizing your lawn first and foremost. If you follow this list of must do’s, you can be sure that your lawn and garden will look fantastic after a season of hibernation. For more info, check out this local garden expert’s November checklist!