When the temperatures drop and brisk winds blow, our attention turns from summertime pools and parties to fall’s schoolbags and football games. Here are five steps to prepare your landscape and hardscape for winter.
Prepare your Garden for Winter
Trees and Shrubs
Generally speaking, most trees and shrubs are best pruned in winter when the sap has stopped running – after the first freeze but before the spring thaw. When you prune a tree or shrub, you’re sending a signal to the plant to concentrate its efforts and energy on the area you’ve cut. So when spring arrives, new growth will emerge at the pruned section.
If you aren’t sure whether one of your favorite trees or special shrubs should be pruned, call the experts at J&S Landscaping. We’ll be happy to come out and talk to you about your plants’ needs.
There are several ways you can protect smaller trees and deciduous shrubs. You could surround them with chicken wire fencing and fill in the spaces with straw, hay or mulch. Or, create a tent of sorts with stakes and burlap or a tarp. Drive stakes into the ground at four corners around the base of the plant or tree. Then, wrap your covering around the stakes, securing it at the top, center and bottom with twine.
Don’t go crazy watering your trees and shrubs in the fall. The sun’s rays aren’t as strong in October as they are in May so you can reduce how much water the plants get. Be sure to give them a good watering after the tree’s leaves have dropped but before the ground freezes. When you do, cover the entire canopy area. A tree’s roots can spread out that far so you want to make sure you get to all of them, not just at the base of the trunk.
Making sure your lawn greets spring with renewed vigor starts with taking steps in the fall. First de-thatch / aerate it, then feed it. Have a commercial enterprise? We offer commercial lawn care!
De-thatch and Aerate
The yellow-brown grass you see under the green grass is called thatch. If thatch builds up, it could keep nutrients from reaching the grass’s roots. De-thatching your lawn isn’t complicated. It just takes a vigorous raking. But do this in early fall. De-thatching can put stress on your lawn and doing it too late in the season doesn’t give the grass time to recover.
Should you aerate your lawn? It depends. A properly aerated lawn allows water, oxygen and nutrients to filter through the soil. If your lawn’s soil is too compacted, these won’t reach the grasses roots so you may need to aerate it. Use a garden fork for small areas, . a lawn aerator for larger ones.
Feed and Weed Your Lawn
You’ve de-thatched and aerated your lawn. Now it’s time to feed it. Adding a fall fertilizer with high phosphorous content will encourage root growth and ensure a lush lawn in spring. This is also the time to seed your lawn. These tasks are best done early in the fall rather than spring so your lawn isn’t competing with weeds for the fertilizer’s nutrients.
Give your lawn one last cutting. If you set your mower to a low setting and give the lawn one final cut before winter sets in, it will help the soil dry out more quickly in the spring.
You might want to do this after the last bit of leaves have fallen. Leave them be, then let the mower chop them up when you do your final mowing. If you usually bag your leaves, let them stay on the lawn. This will add some extra nutrients to your lawn.
You can prepare your garden for winter by taking care of your plants. Perennials, shrubs and roses need to be winterized to protect them from damage during freezes by adding mulch around their bases. Depending on how often your area experiences deep freezes, you may need to cover or wrap them in a blanket, sheet or plastic.
Now is the time to divide and cut back most of your perennials. But perennials that bloom in the fall shouldn’t be divided until spring. Confused about when to cut back your plants? Or want help planning for spring? The landscaping experts at J & S Landscaping can advise you.
Prepare Your Hardscape for Winter
Take a close look at your deck, pavers and other hardscapes such as retaining walls and fountains. Prepare them for winter before cold weather hits. Winter’s hard freezes, ice and other conditions can cause damage. To prevent mold and mildew, power wash your deck. After it dries, add a weatherproof stain.
Avoid using rock salt on your bricks and pavers. Try sand, cat litter or (sparingly) a de-icer. If you’re going to shovel snow, use a plastic shovel, not a metal one that could gouge and scratch.
Get Your Equipment for Ready for Winter
Just as important as winterizing your landscape and hardscape, is your equipment. Here is a short checklist for you to consider when you prepare your garden for winter:
- Drain water from hoses, fountains, irrigation systems, birdbaths and any other watering or water-holding item. Water left standing during the winter can cause damage.
- Clean your gardening tools before storing them. If they’re getting dull, get them sharpened. If they’re starting to rust, sand them and add a drop of oil to the blades.
- Drain the gas from your mower. If it needs a tune-up or the blades need to be sharpened, now is the time to get it done.
- If you use a greenhouse or cold frame, cleaning them out now will give you a head start next spring, when you’re anxious to start planting.
Prepare for Winter Now
Follow these steps to prepare your yard, garden and hardscapes for the harsh toll of winter. If you need help with any of these tasks, give us a call 248-366-7980.