Is Your Yard Ready For Winter?

Is Your Yard Ready For Winter?
by Andy Cook

Autumn is upon us, the time of year when the weather turns crisp and we need a light jacket or sweater to venture outside. I actually like this time of year, even though it’s apparent that the number of daylight hours is decreasing. And whether you’re a fan of living in the Lehigh Valley where we have four distinct seasons or not, old man winter is not too far off. For those of you with large homes or small, this is the time to go outside and begin your fall yard clean up, and prep the exterior landscape in advance of colder temperatures.

Chris Prorok, landscape maintenance manager at Plantique, Inc., shared some important tips to help you identify key tasks for your weekend to-do list. As you plan your weekend chores this month, you may want to consider some of these suggestions.

Deal with those leaves.

Be sure to remove leaves from your gutters, as clogged gutters and downspouts mean that rain can saturate the ground close to your foundation, which is not a good thing. Wet leaves remaining in the gutters can add quite a bit of weight when they get wet and freeze, which also leaves little room for actual rain to get through. Also be sure that the downspouts are not dented and are directing rain away from your home. And remember to remove leaves from your beds and grass.

Get out the trimmers.

“This is the time of year to cut back your perennials, ornamental grasses and roses for the winter,” says Prorok. “This maintenance work now will be a good start for when spring comes.” Be sure to check your house and roof that they are clear of any tree limbs. Check trees that are close to your home for deadwood (branches which could easily break off and fall). This is preventive and proactive, and pruning those tree branches and limbs back – which are close to your home or on your roof – will hopefully eliminate future damage due to snow or wind. Also be sure your roof doesn’t have any missing or loose shingles, and if it does, get it taken care of right away.

Fertilize your lawn.

Prorok suggests using a fertilizer formulated for winter to give your lawn the nutrients it needs as we head into the winter season.

Check your central a/c condenser.

If you have central air, the condensing unit is that box outside that runs constantly in the summer.  This requires some fall maintenance, too. Using your hose, spray the fan blades and coils clear of debris. Also remove wet leaves that may be lying about the unit. You may also want to consider a breathable waterproof cover for the unit as well.

Prepare your gas-powered equipment.

Now is the time that you’re likely giving your lawn that final cut of the year, or doing your last bit of leaf blowing. Be sure to empty the gas out of your lawn mower, string trimmer, leaf blower or other equipment with a gas-powered engine. Check your owner’s manual regarding adding any gas additives as well. With winter soon approaching, Prorok suggests getting out your snow blower.  “Getting your snow blower tuned up now will prepare you for winter, and it may be easier to schedule that maintenance visit now, versus in late November or December when many shops are busier,”
he says.

Watch for frost.

If there’s a surprise early frost, be sure to cover your garden and flower beds so they’re not impacted. This will help save any tomatoes, vegetables or flowers in your garden.

Give your home a visual inspection.

Autumn is the perfect time to take a walking tour of the exterior of your home and grounds. Is there any loose siding or trim which needs the attention of your hammer and nails? Is there any exposed wood requiring a quick priming and painting? Are you seeing any small cracks in the foundation?  Taking care of these issues early can prevent some costly repairs down the road.

Check online for some easy tips and ways to inspect your weather stripping for potential air leaks. If it’s a windy day, feel around your windows for any leaks. Typically these will be at the edges where a window slides or hinges, such as the panes of a double-hung window.

Turn on and inspect your outside lighting, as there may be bulbs in need of replacement. It is also important to turn off the water to any outside faucets to prevent any potential freezing or bursting. You may also want to consider an insulated cover as well. Be sure to also take in and put away any hoses you may keep outside. Water left in hoses can freeze and cause them to crack.

Don’t forget to put away or cover your patio furniture and gas grill.

Whether you store your furniture outside on the patio or deck, or in a garage or shed, take the time to now to extend their life.

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