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An ounce of prevention... Prepping your yard for winter

Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

An ounce of prevention... Prepping your yard for winter

Winter is a fact of life in Canada! Between back to work and back to school, it’s also important to find time to prepare your yard, property or patio for the coming cold season. And watching out for certain risk factors and being proactive with preventive maintenance could save you significant money. Here’s what to do to winterize your property to make sure it will be ready to enjoy when the snow melts next spring.

Protect your plants, flowers and trees so you don’t have to replace them

You put a lot of time into your yard this summer. From a vegetable garden to flowers to landscaping, you did it all! To avoid having to spend a fortune next spring, inspect your property’s current condition, starting with all living things. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

  • Cut perennials down to about 2 inches from the ground. Cover plants that will be exposed to less snow—such as those running along the walls of your house—with organic straw.
  • Pull up and compost all annuals.
  • Plant any new bulbs (tulips, crocuses, daffodils) for next season as soon as the daytime high falls below 15 degrees. This is also a good time to plant garlic in your vegetable garden.
  • Cut back hedges and water them generously (every week until the ground freezes) to keep them from drying out too much during the winter.
  • Trim any weakened tree branches that could, for example, blow off in a winter storm and damage your house, vehicles, shed or patio.
  • Spread fall fertilizer on plants, the lawn and around more fragile trees.
  • Rake up leaves to keep them from smothering the lawn. Another solution: shred them so that they return to the soil more readily.
  • Mow the lawn one last time before the freeze, a little shorter (grass approximately 2 inches high) than usual. You can also reseed any bare patches to give them a head start next spring.
  • Protect fragile plants with winter coverings. This can help you avoid having to replace rosebushes and other zone 5 flowers. To find out what zone your municipality lies in, consult the Natural Resources Canada
  • Wrap shrubs in burlap or white geotextile, especially those that will be exposed to abundant snow. Also, avoid covering shrubs with snow unnecessarily when snowblowing in the winter. Plastic tarps should not be used as they can overheat or trap moisture (which can make plants rot).

Protect any landscaping elements from excessively harsh winter conditions

Next, it’s time to look at structural landscaping components. Check the condition of fencing, piping, watering systems… Remember, if you take the time to do it now, you could avoid possible (major) headaches later!

  • Check the condition of fences, sundecks and the patio. If you see any weak spots, reinforce them for winter… and never underestimate how much the snow is going to weigh!
  • Purge the pipes in your watering system.
  • Store gardening accessories, including hoses, in the garage or shed.
  • Shut off the water to outdoor taps and then leave the taps slightly open.
  • Put garden furniture away in the garage or cover it with tarps.
  • Ensure the barbecue cover is tied down, or move the barbecue into the shed. Propane tanks should also be put away.

And if you have a pool, don’t forget to winterize it properly and to get expert help if you’re not familiar with the procedure!

The unexpected: Expect it!

Any homeowner will tell you that when you own a house with a yard, it’s wise to be prepared for unlikely, but possible, events. For example, you could have to cut down a tree that has become hazardous after a storm, do repairs on your well or patch a leaking shed roof. Setting money aside regularly in an emergency fund or high-interest savings account is one excellent tool for protecting your investment.

And after the winter prep work is done, enjoy sitting down with a local beer (and maybe a cozy blanket!) to admire the beautiful outdoor scenes that only autumn can create!

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