Winterizing lawns and gardens makes spring more fun

Nov 11th, 2019 | By | Category: Lifestyles

The leaves are starting to fall, and while the hard work of summer lawn and garden care may be over, now’s the time to tackle a few landscaping tasks that need to be finished before winter arrives. By completing these chores now, you will be able to jump right in when spring arrives. Here are 10 top tasks for winterizing your lawn and garden this fall:

  • Prepare a list and a schedule. First off, you have to map out a winter gardening itinerary to follow. You need to know your area’s frost dates, for starters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture website has a plant-hardiness zone map you can use as reference to know which plants are best at surviving cold weather, and which need special care. You can also consult a local gardening almanac according to city, state, or zip code. These give specific tips on what to grow where. You can then schedule the chores, tasks, and other activities that need to be done in your winterizing list. Small acts like rolling up garden hoses, putting plastic containers away to prevent from cracking, and draining the fuel tank of lawn mowers will save you a lot of heartache (and money) when spring rolls around. 
  • Get rid of weeds. Many can survive the cold and wreak havoc on your plants. Carefully remove those with seed heads so that none will come out. Even a tiny portion of seeds can germinate fast and invade your garden in a matter of weeks. Make sure the weeds are nowhere in contact with your other plants and soil. Put them in a covered garbage bin where they belong. This is the perfect time to till and turn over the soil while it’s still easy to work. You’ll be saving yourself the extra labor in the spring when the soil is hard and cold from winter. Finish by covering the beds with a layer of organic fertilizer such as chicken or cow manure.
  • Trees and shrubs have a tendency to become overgrown over time. When they become too big for their space or need to be moved for other reasons, fall is the ideal time to move them to their new home.
  • Keep shrubs snug and warm. You can wrap them with a burlap sack or a thick fabric to keep them from freezing and suffering windburn. Never use plastic because it doesn’t breathe, and can overheat young plants. When the weather becomes warmer, remove the wrapping right away.
  • Spend a bit of time during fall planting new bulbs in pots and in- ground, so you can enjoy an array of color and beauty in the early spring. Bulbs can be divided during this time allowing for the chance to control their size and location. Plant excess bulbs in other parts of the yard.
  • Cut back and shape perennials such as shrubs, trees, grasses, and plants such as hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons.
  • Prep hoses and outdoor faucets for cold by disconnecting all hoses. Roll them up and store with sprinklers and wands. Insulate all exposed pipes and exterior water faucets to prevent them from freezing.
  • Help your lawn grow green and healthy next spring by aerating, over-seeding and fertilizing now. Fall is the ideal time. Use an aerator just before seeding to help improve the soil, drainage and aeration. An annual fall application of compost on top of the lawn will ensure micronutrients are improving the soil.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch. Plants need extra warmth during winter, and mulching will act as a protective blanket for them. New plants that have not taken root yet especially need mulching. It will keep moisture where it needs to be and prevent weeds from taking hold, while keeping soil temperature even for tender plants. Check in mid-January to early-February if the mulch has moved from heavy wind and rain and reapply as needed, unless you are using a weather-resistant mulch.
  • Service, clean and replace tools. There’s nothing more frustrating than rusted or poorly working equipment or tools when you’re ready to use them in the spring. Clean, sharpen and oil garden tools, as well as clean and service lawnmowers and weed trimmers.  Keep them dry so they won’t freeze or rust.

Rhianna Miller, who wrote this article, is the home and landscaping design expert for Rubber Mulch, a manufacturer of mulch from recycled material.