Four Tips to Winterize Your Lawn and Get Winter Ready

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pruning

As the cold weather starts to set in, it’s important to think about getting your lawn and garden ready for winter. Fall is the perfect season to tackle yard work and fix issues with your lawn in preparation for colder months and the following spring. Whether you’re wondering how to winterize your lawn, when to trim plants and trees or how to prep your snow blower, these tips will help you get ready for winter.

Know When to Trim

Pruning and cutting in the fall is a delicate process. As a rule, you don’t want to prune in late fall, though some early trimming can help your plants. You definitely don’t want to cut back any plants that flower in the spring because buds begin forming in the fall and need time to harden over the winter. Any cutting done to these plants will damage them and keep them from blooming in the spring. Evergreens should also not be trimmed until the spring, and should only be trimmed back halfway to allow the new growth to properly fill in.

However, you can trim your other perennials close to the ground before the first frost. After the frost, clear away whatever has broken down. You can also use your hedge trimmers to prune privet and butterfly bushes. Make sure you leave about three feet of the bush to keep it from breaking under winter snow. Any cuttings that are not diseased or insect-ridden can be added to your compost pile and used to winterize the lawn. If you’re wondering whether or not to trim in the fall, consider whether your shrubs may act as a wind break in the winter and if you can wait until spring to cut them back.

Use a Log Splitter to Prepare Firewood

If you had to take down a tree this summer, or need to cut branches that could pose a problem under the weight of winter snow, a log splitter can make easy work of your wood chopping chore. In the fall, just as with your smaller plants, you only want to cut back when necessary. Look for branches that could damage your property or the tree if they were to break under winter stress. Use a chainsaw to cut your branches into manageable logs for the splitter to cut, usually about 25 inches long. Power up the log splitter and let it do the heavy lifting, just be sure to read the owner’s manual before operating and take proper log-splitter safety precautions. Store firewood covered by a tarp in a dry, well-ventilated space like under the deck. Get ready for winter by collecting kindling from around the yard and storing it in boxes near the house.

Winterize Your Lawn

Early fall is the perfect time to reseed and fertilize your lawn to repair any damage, but you can also take this time to spread compost to protect it throughout the colder months. To winterize your lawn, mulch fall leaves and leave them on the yard to decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Spread a light layer of compost onto the lawn and flower beds to keep them warm and improve the soil quality throughout winter. Don’t be afraid to slightly bury some plants, just be careful not to crush them entirely.

Cut your lawn on the usual high settings throughout the season, but lower the cut setting on the last day you mow. This will get the lawn ready for winter by keeping it short to prevent matting under the snow. As you winterize your lawn, think about any new beds you’d like to plant next spring. Lay down newsprint and a six-inch layer of mulch where you would like them to go. This helps kill the grass and prepare the ground for planting.

Keep leaves away from the base of trees wherever possible to prevent mold growth and the suffocation of your lawn. You can rake them into the yard to be mulched, along with any leaves covering the driveway or other pathways. Clear the gutters to prevent backup during the winter melt, and if you have drainage areas in your yard, make sure leaves are cleared from those spots as well.

Store Your Lawnmower and Prepare Your Snow Blower

After you’ve winterized your lawn, chopped your firewood and spread your compost, it’s time to put the lawnmower away and prepare your snow blower for Old Man Winter. Drain the gas and oil from the mower, remove the spark plug, clean the lawn mower blades and store your machine for winter. Take this time to check if any new parts will need to be ordered for spring as well. To get your snow blower ready for winter, change the oil and check all the filters and parts. It’s best to do this in early to mid-fall as you don’t know when the first snowfall will be. Check your owner’s manual for safety and operation tips before using it.

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Comments

  1. Susan Cooper says:

    I love getting my garden ready for winter. I know if I take my time and care for my plants/ trees they will be alive with color and flowers in spring and summer. 🙂

  2. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) says:

    Well written and very informative! Have to say, it’s a great reminder of the pleasures of no longer being a home owner! Laugh! Sorry….I used to love doing this stuff…I did. But now I am renting for the first time in over 30 years and finding that I don’t miss it all that much! Carry On!

    • I can totally see not missing some of the yard work when I am older. At least for now I have my husband to tend to a lot of it for me. I just like the fun stuff like veggies and flowers.

  3. Ah yes, fall chores. My kids hate this time of year. And you reminded me that I need to do some trimming. 🙂 Great reminder thanks.

    • Aww do your kids hate it because school started or because they have to do yard work? I personally love this time of year when its not too hot and not too cold.

    • Because it’s yard work. They’d rather read or play video games. I do make a fire while they are doing their yard work and we make s’mores when we’re done.

    • The s’mores idea is a good incentive. Everyone loves those almost 🙂

  4. Great tips. I was just looking at my lawn and thinking, I should be doing something, but not sure what. This is the first year I don’t have a service coming in to manage it. This is good incentive to stop pondering and get going. 🙂

  5. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever winterized my lawn. We need to get a log splitter or at least a chain saw because the branches that are falling off the trees are getting thicker and bigger. My husband’s circular saw just isn’t cutting it – literally.

  6. Whew. You just made me aware of how grateful I am my husband and I have both a turf company and landscape company who tend to our lawn, all year round. This is work! We love leaving things like this to the professionals when we can. We aren’t always able to do it but in the case of the lawn which is like an all around the house welcome mat, we want it looking fabulous. Thanks for the insights.

    Over from LinkedIn group BHB

    • I think we are going invest in a grass/weed control company next year. What we really need is an irrigation system. That would make life so much easier.

  7. Elizabeth Scott says:

    I will sadly admit that I do not have the greenest of thumbs. I leave the winterizing to my husband. 🙂

  8. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says:

    I’ve yet to fully figure out how to properly prune me apple tree. There’s so much to do outside this time of year, but I love it since yard work is an excuse to be outside.

    • I wish I had an apple tree. I so want to go apple picking this year but things keep coming up. Hopefully we can do it before it gets too cold.

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