When the temperatures start to drop, it’s time to think about preparing for winter. The cold wind, freezing temperatures, and snow may mean your backyard and home’s exterior need a bit of attention. Taking a few steps now helps to minimize damage to your property and assets, while also making spring cleanup a bit easier to manage overall. The following are some of the most important steps to take to prepare your backyard for fall and winter this year.
Get the Backyard Lawn Taken Care Of
A final mow of the lawn is in order as the temperatures begin to drop. Mowing the lawn just before cold weather sets in, especially in northern climates, helps ensure the grass is prepared for the harsh weather. It also pulls up any lawn litter in place and may help to reduce fungus growth during the spring months after the snow melts. Cut the grass to the minimum height recommended for the type of grass you have growing.
Aerate and Fertilize the Lawn
There are a few more tasks necessary to give your lawn a strong start in the fall. That’s by protecting it now from some of the most common problems. First, start with aerating the lawn. Aeration is just what it sounds like – it is a process that allows a higher level of oxygen to enter deep into the ground. You’ll want to hire a professional to do this or rent a specific machine for the job. It will pull up plugs of the lawn to allow for improved airflow to the grassroots.
Next, fertilize the lawn before the first frost. In the fall months, in colder temperatures, it is best to choose a fertilizer mix that has a lower amount of nitrogen in it. Look for one that has a higher amount of potassium. This combination helps to provide stabilization for the root system and the necessary nutrients to get the soil and grass through the winter months.
Prepare the Hot Tub for Winter
If you don’t have a hot tub service team to come out to handle the closing down of your hot tub for the winter, you’ll need to do a few things yourself. To get started, you’ll need to power down the system, which means emptying it of all water. Handle any maintenance and cleaning of the hot tub now. Don’t wait until spring to deal with problems, as they could worsen with the freezing and thawing in the area. Shut off the heater and turn the spa off.
In addition to this, be sure to clean out all filters, loosen all fittings to help with freezing, and blow the jets. You also need to be sure the shell is clean. Cover the hot tub properly and securely to eliminate any rain, snow, or debris from getting into it. Finally, be sure to follow any recommendations from the hot tub’s manufacturer to ensure it is properly winterized.
Help Trees Flourish
Trees often do not get the necessary treatment they need especially heading into the winter months. It doesn’t have to be hard to give them to support they need, though. It’s possible to plant new trees in the fall months (in fact, this is the best time to do so while the soil remains warm). If you do that, be sure to water them well into the fall to allow the roots to grow and stabilize well. It’s also a good time to work with an arborist to trim the tree properly, removing dead or damaged branches before the harsh winter weather brings them down. This also helps to support new, healthy growth during the spring.
Walk Around the House
The next step is to take a long walk around the outside of the house. Your goal is to remove any material that should not be there and to look for specific areas of concern. Here are a few simple steps to take to do just that.
- Turn off the spigots around the home. Turning them off helps to prevent water from dripping. When this happens, that water can freeze and lead to a break in the line in the deep winter months. That could cause interior flooding of your home if you’re not careful.
- Look at all window and door sills. Specifically, look for any holes or gaps in your siding or other exterior covering. You want to make sure these are properly patched before the winter months come in. That could help improve the home’s energy efficiency.
- Remove the leaves. Leaves are a problem for some soils and grass if they are left in place long term. It’s a good idea to remove them all. You can compost them if you would like to do so. Just get them out of the flowerbeds and the grass to protect those surfaces.
Tackle Water Features with Care
Do you have a pool at your home? Or perhaps an all season pool? No matter what you own, it is important to prepare these services for the cold winter and snow. There are a few common steps to take across all of these types of features.
- Remove the water from all exterior water features. That includes the pool, fountains, and other spaces. Removing the water helps to minimize freezing of it, which could cause damage to the exterior.
- Cover the water feature properly. That often includes providing some level of protection for inground structures to prevent people or animals from falling into them. Look for the proper cover recommended by the manufacturer.
Irrigation Systems and Lighting Tasks
Most property owners have a few lighting systems around the exterior of the home. Most of the time, these do not need a lot of attention as they should be water- and weather-proofed. If there are any light bulbs that are out or any area of exposed electrical, get those taken care of now, before winter arrives. It’s much more difficult to make adjustments in the cold weather. Don’t forget your home security systems and cameras as well.
For irrigation systems, follow the recommendations by the manufacturer. Most of the time, this involves draining the system properly. Blow out the automated systems to remove all water present. Remove the hose nozzles from the system, along with any sprayers or wands. You don’t want these to be exposed directly to the elements during the winter months.
Tackle the Needs of Your Plants
One of the nice things about the north is that there are a lot of hearty plants that can withstand the cold temperatures. Yet, it’s important to do your part to make sure they are given the right tools to do just that. Here are some recommendations to help.
- Roses: To winterize your roses, be sure to add a fresh layer of mulch over their roots before the first heavy frost. Water the plant well before doing so.
- Annuals: Remove annuals from the ground. These do not return in the spring but can cause a number of problems for the look of your landscaping during the spring months. Removing them now is a good way to minimize risks.
- Potted plants: if you have potted plants that remain outdoors throughout the winter, it’s a good time to add insulation to them, whether that is a covering to minimize wind damage or added mulch. Make sure to bring in any plants that cannot make it through winter.
- Perennials: Some perennials have very specific steps that they need to make it through the winter months well. Most of the time, you will want to prune back these plants during the fall months. Some plants do not need this and shouldn’t be pruned until the spring.
- Bulbs: If you have bulbs that have yet to be planted, store them in a dry, cool place during the winter months, generally in a cardboard box or mesh bag. If you have bulbs that have finished flowering, trim them back now. It is best to cut them back to the dead foliage and only remove foliage when it is yellow.
- Shrubs: If you have shrubs, it is a good idea to do a bit of work to help them make it through the winter. This may include placing burlap barriers around them, especially if they are sensitive to the cold. This can also help to protect them from salt that’s placed on roadways that can be damaging to these plants.
Need Some Guidance on Your Hot Tub?
While you’re working to break down your hot tub for the winter months, you may be thinking about the spring already. Let our team at Sundance Spas Kitchener-Waterloo offer the help and guidance you need. Now is the perfect time to start planning for next summer. Let us help you with a new gazebo plan or even an all season pool. If you need some help upgrading or repairing your hot tub, we offer those services too. Don’t put off giving us a call for any help you need. You can also book service online now.