Winterizing Your Lawn and Yard will Save it from the Cold


With the end of daylight saving time upon us, now is the perfect time to get your yard in tip-top shape for the seasons ahead. A few simple steps will reward you in spring with healthier plants and less damage to your yard’s infrastructures and surfaces. Set the timer for two hours, toss on your favorite plaid scarf, and set out the hot cocoa. You’re ready to winterize your lawn and yard.

First, prep your utilities.

Keep pipes from bursting. If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, make sure your irrigation system is ready for the cold. Turn off and drain all pipes, valves, sprinkler heads, and outdoor faucets. Also remove and store any attached hoses.  

Take a look at your lighting. You’ll want everything in working order to prevent tripping or slipping on early winter evenings. Adjust the timer schedule on automatic outdoor lighting systems to keep energy bills low.

Keep water at bay. Clear gutters of leaf litter, check to make sure downspouts extend a few feet away from the house, and check drains for debris.

Next, give your plants some TLC.

Aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn. A few weeks before the first freeze, cast more seeds on top of any turf areas, especially in bare spots. Use an aerator to help bring water and nutrients to roots, then toss on some winterizing fertilizer. Mow every two weeks and give the lawn a little extra water until freezing temperatures hit.

Prune trees and shrubs. Trim overgrown branches away from the house and electrical wires. You might want to wrap delicate plants (like hydrangeas or roses) in burlap. They may not need the on-trend coat of 2017, but some plants could use a little extra warmth.

Some perennials will die back. It’s okay! Don’t worry! Many plants go dormant in the winter and will come back to life in spring. Give these a layer of mulch after the first freeze (steering clear of the area just around the base).

Some annuals will die completely. Some types of plants, like the inexpensive little flowers at the front of Home Depot, only bloom for a year. Remove these now to make room for more next year. You’ll have a few surprises to look forward to if you put some bulbs in the ground now.

Move pots to a safe spot. Warmer spaces in garages or mudrooms will help protect potted plants through harsh conditions.

Stay hydrated. As long as temperatures aren’t freezing, keep watering your garden at least every three weeks through February.

Lastly, start with a blank slate.

Rake or blow fall leaves. The magic of fall is the work of the winter — clearing debris from rotting away on landscaped areas a tedious but necessary task.

Weed. Also tedious, also necessary. You don’t want these pests taking over during the first rains of spring.

Take a look at decks. Clear any debris caught between boards to keep mildew and mold from popping up. It’s best to treat any splintering or insect damage you see on deck boards now.

Give patio furniture some rest. Wash and dry furniture before covering with a tarp or moving indoors for safekeeping.

Make it through the checklist? Plop a few extra marshmallows in your mug as you revel in the fact that your yard work is done for the next few months. You can rest easy knowing you have a great spring ahead.