How To Winterize Your Yard

Chris Ching

You’ve had the chance to enjoy the leaves changing from lively greens to vibrant reds and oranges, but now the leaves are falling and it’s time to start the not-so-pretty yard work in preparation for the first snowfall of the season.

(Has it already snowed where you are? If so, stop reading this blog and get outside for some sledding, skiing, snowshoeing or to build a snowman!)

Properly preparing your yard is important for many reasons, including lessening slippery outdoor surfaces, preventing unwanted home improvement costs, and protecting perennial plants.

Turn off your outdoor plumbing

Failing to drain your pool pumps, hoses, fountains, outdoor faucets and shutting off their water source can cause major damage to your plumbing system and property. Before it begins to consistently freeze overnight, take care of this chore to avoid any major damage -and the major bills.

Prepare your garden 

The best part about perennials is that they keep coming back! Don’t let this season be their last by caring for them just as you normally would until the first snowfall. Best practice is to let the plants complete as much as their growth cycle so they have enough energy to survive the winter, but if you do cut them back, use a sharp pair of pruners to maintain the plants’ integrity.

For the plants whose season has come to an end, clear them out from the area completely and bring them to your compost. Adding compost to the garden soil will help keep it healthy over the next few frigid months.

Get rid of those leaves

As the ground begins to freeze, or even just in rain, leaves make all surfaces very slippery. This can put your family and any guests on your property in danger of falling. 

Also, harmful ticks can be living in leaf piles. We all know ticks thrive in tall grass, but they also really enjoy residing in leaves as they retain moisture and make a great nesting place.

Deer ticks (most common on the East coast) pass through four life stages over a two-year period. And when do ticks die? Not for at least two winters. Eggs are fertilized in the fall and deposited in leaf litter. As they grow into larvae, they will remain close to the ground in the leaves and grass, and eventually latch onto a host like a mouse or bird – mammals that also reside in your yard and can spread ticks into your home.

This also means steer clear of jumping in leaf piles, as tempting as it might be. And if you or your kids play in the leaves, perform a thorough tick check, looking especially close for the tiny nymphs.

Purchase ice melt

You’re going to want to lay ice melt down before it actually starts icing, so having it on hand is always the safest bet. There are a few different options so go for a pet-friendly one like magnesium chloride if you have pets or any animals that hang out in your yard. If you’re laying down ice melt on concrete, use a sand mixture instead of a salt blend to avoid any unwanted damage.

Fend off the deer

Maybe you enjoy watching a sweet family of deer prancing in your snowy yard, but take caution because they will go for your landscape as their food sources dwindle down. Spray a deer repellent on any of your treasured plants that you can’t stand to lose. Pro tip: deer don’t like protein, so sprays that contain egg yolk are a good choice.

Deer are also a popular host for ticks. A good way to keep those tiny predators as far away from your home as possible is keeping the deer at bay in year-round, including in the colder months when ticks are living on the deer.

Clean up and then you’re good to go!

The last step in winterizing your yard is cleaning up all of your furniture that isn’t going to withstand the inevitable snow storms. If you don’t have a place for storage, tightly wrapping any furniture and other fixtures in a plastic tarp can offer a good amount of protection – just be sure to regularly check on them throughout the winter. Next, power wash your decks and patios to wash away any dirt and grime that’s accumulated throughout the summer and fall. And while you’re at it, clean up your windows and inspect seals to avoid a drafty winter.

Done with your chores? Good, get inside and get cozy or bundle up for some winter outdoor adventures.

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