Fall days may be full of changing leaves and crisp weather, but it is also a time to prep your lawn for winter. During the summer months, lawns and gardens experience a resting period as a way to protect themselves from the heat and rays of summer. As most things go dormant in winter, fall is really the best time to restore any damages summer may have caused your lawn or garden. Below are 10 tips on winterizing your outdoor space.
1) Plan ahead and start early. Now that the summer days have started to cool, the countdown begins to revitalize your lawn. The earlier you begin the winterization process, the more nutrients your lawn will absorb, making spring endeavors more manageable. Those who wait until late fall may experience great difficulty (nutrients may wash away) as your lawn begins to turn dormant in anticipation for the upcoming winter season.
2) Check pH levels. No one wants to do work in vain so make sure you check your lawn's pH levels before applying any chemicals or treatments. A pH diagnostic will help determine your lawn's acidity level and reveal any areas that may require special attention. You can purchase a small kit to perform the test on your own or hire a professional to do the work.
3) Skip pruning. Giving your lawn and garden attention during autumn is a great practice that can quickly turn unhealthy if done excessively. Contrary to popular belief, common gardening practices like pruning can be harmful to your outdoor space in the autumn months. You should refrain from cultivating new growth that will only get destroyed during winter, causing additional labor in the spring.
4) Aerate your lawn. For those looking for healthier lawns and better results, try aerating your space. Aerating opens up the soil in your lawn and garden and allows for water and air to have more direct access to roots. It also permits the flow of nutrients to penetrate the soil for long-lasting results. You should consider aerating your lawn if it received high traffic during the summer (causes compression).
5) Find a good winterizer. No lawn or garden will likely survive winter without a good winterizer. Most winterizers contain the same ingredients as lawn food that is necessary for maintaining a healthy outdoor area. There is however a noticeable difference in the ingredients ratio that should be considered prior to purchase. Winterizers should use less nitrogen and more potassium and phosphorous that will strengthen roots during the winter months.
6) Rake leaves and remove debris. Did you know that leaves, when left on a lawn or garden during winter, can cause dry and dead spots? Stay on top of falling leaves and make it a habit to clean them up on a regular basis. In addition, remove any branches and dead plants from your lawn to help ensure even growth in the spring.
7) Watch out for weeds. Weeds have a known reputation for birthing seeds in the fall. This can lead to additional work and unhealthy gardens and lawns. Get in the habit of pulling weeds before it gets too cold to take preventative action.
8) Prep all water systems. The shock of winter's freezing temps can have a serious effect on many things, including your pipes. You may have heard of horror stories involving bursting pipes that cost a small fortune to repair, so take the necessary steps to not become a victim. Shut off all outdoor water systems completely and allow enough time for drainage. Review all systems' instruction manuals and consult a professional with any questions.
9) Cover flower beds. As you begin to prep your lawn for winter, you may discover that some garden items need to be planted in the fall. Cover your garden with burlap to provide extra protection during those chilly winter months.
10) Bring small plants indoors. Tender bulbs, small plants and some garden herbs may not have the strength to outlast the winter season. To keep them alive and fresh, plant them in small pots and continue growing them indoors.
Tanvier Lee is a New York based lifestyle decorator, stylist and freelance writer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com
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