Get Your Yard Ready For Winter

Gardening in spring may be more fun—there’s that sense of beginning, the excitement of seeing green and color and life after months of cold and snow. But gardening in fall is critical to making sure your yard will be in its best shape when spring makes its way around again.

Here’s a to-do list that will have your landscaping ready for winter and ready to look its best again (or better) next year:

The Lawn

  • Seed with cool-season grass “six to eight weeks before the first hard freeze,” says Jessica Yonker of the HGTVGardensCrew. It will help you have a green lawn (instead of a brown or patchy one) throughout the winter months.
  • Keep mowing as long as you can. An overgrown lawn will not last as well through the winter as one that’s been kept short.
  • Fertilize or add compost to your lawn to keep it healthy and prep the soil for next year.

The Leaves

  • Rake fallen leaves, of course, but instead of sending them to the dump, turn them into mulch. Rent a mulcher if you don’t own one, and use it to make leaves and other plant material, like pulled-out annuals and cuttings from perennials, into extremely useful stuff that will keep your yard happy and healthy.
  • If you compost, you can use the leaves and plant trimmings that build up in fall to insulate your compost pile. A thick layer on top will help keep temperatures warm inside the pile.

The Garden

  • Pull out annuals that have reached their end, and put mulch around perennials after cutting off the dead growth. A layer of straw over the more fragile plants will help protect them from freezing, too.
  • If you’re keeping any potted plants outside, make sure they’re in a place that gets plenty of sun, and add mulch for extra protection. House plants that were only outside for the summer, however, should definitely come back in.
  • Collect and store seeds for next year. These should stay happy kept dry in an airtight container and a cool dark place.
  • Put down a layer of compost on the garden beds to make sure next spring’s soil will be rich enough to support new growth.
  • Consider putting in cover crops. Jeff Stafford at recommends rye grass and crimson clover to “help suppress weeds, prevent erosion and become rich soil conditioners.” They’re good for bringing in helpful insects, too.

The Rest

  • Nan Fischer from also recommends getting bird feeders ready for winter birds so you can enjoy some movement and life in your garden even in the middle of winter.
  • Last but not least, when it’s time to retire those summer gardening tools, make sure they’re properly stored. And make sure to pull out the winter tools you’ll need soon enough, like that shovel or snow blower.

If you make it down this list before the real cold sets in, you can relax and focus on other things, like staying warm and cozy inside.

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