Prepare Your Lawn For Winter

When the leaves begin to turn and the air turns cool, it's time to put your lawn to bed for the winter.

As the warm summer weather ebbs to a close, you breathe a sigh of relief. No more mowing, trimming, or weeding until next year.

But wait! You still have things to do to prepare your lawn for the long winter months ahead. If you don't take these preparatory steps, your lawn may suffer the consequences and not look its best next year. Here are some of the tasks that may require your attention this fall.

1. The lawn. If your grass is several inches tall and looking somewhat shabby, give in and mow one more time before cold weather sets in. Mowing now will prevent the tall grass from dying and smothering the tender shoots underneath, leaving a lot of raking, mowing, or seeding to do when spring temperatures return. Rake the mown grass and gather it for the trash or compost pile. Leaving stacks of shavings will create dead spots in the yard.

Don't forget to trim. Clipping borders and edging the drive and walkways will keep your property looking neat through the next several months. Then in the spring, you will be ready to sow new grass seed without waiting for that first trimming to get the lawn ready.

2. The flowerbeds. If you plan to plow the topsoil under, do it before the ground freezes. Make sure your cultivator or other equipment is in good shape to tunnel through foliage, plants, and produce that remain after the summer bloom and harvest. If you aren't going to plow, remove the last of the weeds and any lingering produce. You can leave it for compost, but if you don't stack it, you may have to plow or cultivate the beds in the spring. After clearing the area you can add another layer of nitrate-rich topsoil to give the area a chance to reconstitute for next season.

3. The trees and shrubs. Trim deadwood and remove loose branches. Mulch around tender trees if needed. You may want to add a wildlife repellent if you lived near a wooded area to keep deer and other creatures from gnawing the bark. Trim flowering bushes way back to get rid of this year's leaves and dying blooms. Weed around them to keep these areas clean and neat.

4. Fences, patios, and other adornments. Clean these with the appropriate tools and chemicals or natural supplies. Put away mobile furniture (like lawn chairs, porch swing, and kids' lawn toys) in the basement, garage, or shed. Clean out, empty, and cover the pool if you have one. Pull up garden ornaments or decorative figures to preserve them over the winter. Cover the outdoor grill and furniture that will remain outdoors, along with the air conditioner, if desired.

5. Clean and organize your tools for next year. Oil those that need it. Wash the trash cans by soaking with soapy water and letting them dry in the sun. Hang a peg board in the garage or shed for hand tools like a hammer, screw driver, drill, and others. Stash nails, screws, and other small parts in coffee cans or secure containers. The fall is a great time to hose down the shed or sweep the garage. You may even want to pressure wash the house or clean the outside windows.

When all of these chores are done, you can rest easy, knowing your property is safe and secure from the ravages of old man winter. Come spring and gardening time, you can set about the task of restoring your yard knowing that everything is in great shape and ready to go from the fall.

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