Advice for Autumn: The Ultimate Guide To Winterize Your Lawn and Garden

winterize your yard

As temperatures dip and days get shorter, it’s a little reminder that winter is on its way. Before the snow arrives, plan ahead and get prepared.

From garden and leaf maintenance to lawn mower and tool care, use these tips on how to winterize your lawn and garden this season.

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How To Winterize Your Lawn

With a little pre-winter work, you can prep your lawn so that you have less work to do in the spring. These tips from the DIY Network will give you a head start on the spring lawn care you usually need to do to break your yard out of the winter funk.

1. Aerate. Aeration is the process of perforating the soil with small holes. This allows air, water, and nutrients to reach grass roots and create a thicker, healthier, greener lawn. It is recommended to aerate your lawn (using a manual or motorized aerator) at least once a year (although twice is best). Plan your annual aeration as the fall unfolds.
2. Seed. If you have brown or dead spots in your yard, use a “cool season” or “cool weather” seed to get a jump start on filling in missing patches.
3. Fertilize. Fertilizer gives your grass nutrients that will help it survive the winter. As you fertilize, use a spreader to evenly distribute fertilizer across your lawn. While fertilizer is good for your yard, too much fertilizer will cause more harm than good. So be sure to spread it out evenly and avoid clumps.
4. Rake. Don’t let layers of leaves sit on your lawn throughout the winter. Rake up dead and dried leaves so they don’t suffocate your grass.

These little tips will prepare your lawn for the winter and give it the push it needs to pop up healthy and new when the spring rolls around.

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How to Turn Leaves Into Useful Mulch

Don’t look at Autumn clean up as a collecting leaves for the trash. Instead, recycle your leaves and use them as a base for soil-enriching mulch.moisture-rich mulch that supports growth in perennials, vegetable plants, and shrubs.

So as you rake and pile up your leaves this fall, don’t dispose of them just yet. Use this method from Gardeners.com to turn your seemingly useless leaves into a valuable resource for your yard.

1. Rake your leaves into a pile. It’s good to have leaves from a variety of tree types.

2. Shred your leaves using a leaf mulcher or by running them over a few times with a lawn mower. Leaf mold can take up to three years to form, but breaking up the leaves will speed up the process to closer to a year or few seasons.

3. Assemble your leaves into a pile and moisten them by adding a bit of water. Leaves can be simply piled into an area where the wind won’t blow them away. Or you can secure leaves in a basic trash bag or build a wire enclosure to keep the leaves secure.

When spring arrives, check on your leaf mold. If it is soft and crumbly, it is ready to go. The whole batch may not be ready so pull from the center of the pile and mix the layers to evenly distribute. Add about three inches around your plants or add it right into soil that will root fresh plants. But keep the leaf mold a few inches from the base of the crown of your plants to prevent the moisture-rich mulch from attracting pests and diseases.

The leaves won’t seem so pesky when you find out what an excellent gardening tool they can be.

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How To Winterize Your Lawn Mower

Along with your yard, you also want to protect your equipment from the cold.

This Old House recommends winterizing your lawn mower by performing the following maintenance.

1. Empty the Gas Tank. When gas is left in the tank, it can rust and gum up the carburetor.

2. Disconnect the Spark Plug. Always remove the spark plug when performing maintenance on a machine so that you can prevent the machine from accidentally turning on during your work.

3. Remove and Sharpen the Blade. You will likely need to remove the blade to perform other maintenance, so use this as an opportunity to sharpen it. (Blade sharpening at M&R starts at just $6.)

4. Clean the Undercarriage. Give your equipment a good cleaning by using a putty knife or wire brush to scrape off old grass and mud caked on the mower deck.

5. Change the Oil. Lawn mowers, like cars, regularly need their oil changed. Refer to your owners manual to see how often you should replace the oil, and use the end of the season as an opportunity to refresh your oil.

6. Change the Air Filter. Regular maintenance also includes changing the air filter. So check it and replace if needed.

7. Check the Owner’s Manual. Look to see if there is any additional regular maintenance required for your particular model.

8. Replace the Spark Plug. Once your maintenance is complete replace the spark plug so when spring hits, you are ready for the first mow of the year.

Equipment lasts longer when you put in proper care and maintenance. If you aren’t sure what your equipment needs, M&R offers a full, seasonal-prep maintenance service to get your machine ready for the spring.

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How to Winterize Your Tools

Like your lawn mower, your garden tools need a little love and maintenance before they are stored away for the season. As you winterize your tools, keep these four things in mind.

Clean — Sterilize with cleaning solution.

Sharpen — Blades perform better when regularly sharpened.

Protect — Use oil to lubricate and prevent rusting.

Store — Keep tools in a dry, secure location.

HGTV.com recommends a few additional steps for the following common tools and yard tools.

Garden Hose: Drain water. Remove nozzles. Repair leaks and coil for safe keeping.

Garden Sprayers: Drain liquid and wash the inside of the bottle and its nozzles with soap and water. Leave empty for the winter.

String Trimmer: Replace the line to prepare for next season.

Taking care of your tools means you have to spend less money buying new tools later on. It’s proactive work that will pay off.

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How To Winterize Your Garden & Flowers

Don’t let all of your hard work growing your garden and flowers go to waste. Use these tips to salvage what you can and prepare your garden to grow faster and fuller next season.

1. Weed. Pull out all unwanted invasive plants and weeds.

2. Remove. Extract any of the past season’s vegetables or non-perennials.

3. Cut. After the first frost, cut back faded or dead foliage on perennials.

4. Divide. If you want to divide your perennials, Mother Nature Network suggests doing it six weeks before the ground freezes so roots can establish themselves before the freeze.

5. Spread mulch. Place mulch over the roots of your perennials. This will help keep the ground at a consistent temperature and protect the roots (as fluctuating temperature as worse for roots than consistent cold).

6. Cover or store. Flower pots or plant containers may fill with snow or water which causes them to crack, break, or rust. So cover and store them until next year.

7. Clean. Terra-cotta pots can be reused next year. Clean the inside and outside with water and a stiff brush to get rid of soil that can harbor insects or disease.

It’s hard to see your garden go for the winter, so use these tips to make sure your flowers and vegetables grow back quickly next year.

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How To Get Ready for the Snow

No one likes to wake up to a driveway full of snow, only to remember that they haven’t replaced the snow shovel from last year.

This year, plan ahead and get the equipment and tools you’ll need when the first snow falls.

Stock up on salt. Be proactive about the ice on your sidewalks and driveways. Stock up on salt ahead of time so when it starts to get cold, you are prepared.

Secure a salt spreader. For large driveways, use a salt spreader that can cut down on your work time and better spread the salt so ice doesn’t form in empty patches.

Prevent massive icicles from forming. If you noticed giant, dangerous icicles hanging from your roof last year, properly insulating your roof and stopping air leakage can prevent these “ice dams” from forming. Ice dams form when the snow on the roof melts at different rates. So, sealing up heat leaks and evening out heat distribution in your house can stop these icy hazards from forming.

Get a snow shovel. Get a sturdy snow shovel to scrape up light snowfalls.

Get a snowblower. Make life easier on yourself with a snowblower that will take care of heavy snowfalls in a fraction of the time you would spend shoveling.

Add a snowplow. Take it one step further and get a snowplow attachment for your vehicle or tractor. It will drastically cut down the time of your snow maintenance and allow you to be the neighborhood hero if you go around clearing out your neighbor’s drives.

Most of us hate to see the summer and fall end. But with these tips, winter won’t be so bad.

Prepare for the snow, ice, and colder temperatures ahead of time and spring will be here before you know it.

If you need any other winter tips or equipment, stop by M&R Power Equipment. From snowblowers, snowplows, and salt spreaders to replacement parts and maintenance checks, we are here to help winterize your lawn, home, and equipment. 

And feel free to share your tips of the trade. What do you do to prepare your home and yard for the winter? Share your winterizing tips in the comments below.

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