Pre-Winter Landscape Maintenance Tasks Homeowners Want To Do

There are plenty of outdoor maintenance tasks that should be done before the winter hits. Autumn is the best time to get these tasks done, but even early winter can work if the sun is shining and temperatures are in the 30s or warmer.

Not only will this tidy up your yard, but you will protect your home and outdoor living spaces from the effects of cold winter temperatures, winds, snow, and ice.

Clean Garden Beds of Weeds and Redefine Edges

Garden beds need a thorough cleaning ahead of the winter. The garden beds will be more attractive when they are free of weeds and debris. This is the time to rejuvenate more mature perennials and shrubs to help them rejuvenate in early spring.

Make an inspection for rodents and other pests that may have been living beneath the lower plantings. Fill in burrows with a combination of soil and pea gravel to discourage their future use.

This is also a great time to cut clean lines along the edges of your garden beds. The soil should be more workable and the turfgrass roots less tough as they begin to enter dormancy. This activity can be accomplished in the springtime, but doing it now makes a nice appearance that you’ll appreciate throughout winter.

Treat Plants and Lawns With Low-Nitrogen Fertilizer

Lawns and ornamental plantings may be dormant during winter, but they are still living plants that require the necessary elements for survival. You’ll want to avoid higher nitrogen fertilizers that may encourage new growth, thereby stressing the plants when they should be slowly going dormant. A light treatment is all that is needed for lawns and woody plantings.

In addition to other potential elements, most fertilizers will contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. This is commonly referred to in the trade as NPK, with the K being the standard symbol for elemental potassium. All three are vital for every plant’s growth. If you happen to find one without nitrogen that is fine for this particular treatment.

If the nitrogen is in a controlled-release form, it will be released slowly prior to winter, with any residual being available to the plants in early spring.

Prune Broken Tree and Shrub Branches

Keeping trees healthy in their environment, and making them attractive and safe for people, is the primary purpose of pruning. When a tree’s crown is balanced it can better support vigorous growth. If the tree is located in an urban or suburban environment, it may be subject to excessive winds. It’s vital to prune the crown to allow strong winds to pass through more readily.

In addition to heavy snowfalls, freezing rain can place significant stress on juvenile branches. In most circumstances, they will bend to accommodate the extra load without breaking, provided the newer growth is checked for balance in late spring and then as winter approaches.

Disconnect Garden Hoses From Water Sources

One of the most important tasks often overlooked is disconnecting garden hoses from their water sources. If water inside the hose freezes and expands, it can rupture pipes inside the house and cause considerable damage.

If you also have buried drain tiles connected to your downspouts, they also should be disconnected from the downspouts for the same reason. Water from a downspout will find its way out due to the vertical flow, but drain tile that takes a horizontal path will likely freeze, thereby blocking the flow of water from exiting the downspout.

Store Water Feature Pumps Safely Inside

Water feature pumps have a low tolerance for cold winter weather. Even a small amount of water can ruin the pump if it freezes. The cost of repairs is usually more than half the cost of a new pump, so be sure to unplug your pump from its power source and store it in a warm dry place, such as your basement.

If that is not an option, and the pump must be stored in a shed or garage, be sure it is 100% dry. Leaving it in a warm, sunny area for a few days is often sufficient. As an extra measure, use a blow dryer to ensure those all moisture has been removed. Do not store it in a plastic bag, but rather, in a dry cardboard box that will allow air to flow and minimize the risk of trapping moisture.

Clear Gutters to Ensure Proper Drainage

Gutter and downspout drainage systems are essential for minimizing the accumulation of water near the home’s foundation. They protect the building from stormwater and the damage it can cause. A functioning gutter system gathers and redirects rainwater from the roof to the surrounding yard where it will naturally drain off the property.

During autumn, the house gutter and drainage system must work much harder to protect the building and avoid winter damage. Debris, such as leaves, organic materials, and high winds, contribute to gutter blockage. Before winter, clean the leaves and debris out of the gutters and inspect the gutters for wear and tear.

Cover Roses to Minimize Winter Damage

A rose prepared for cold weather is said to be hardened off. Many roses harden off by themselves at the beginning of fall and winter. During this period, the plant’s cell wall will thicken to prepare it for dormancy.

To protect the roses, cover the base of the plant with soil and wrap the stems with burlap as an extra measure. Additionally, the best way to prevent winter damage is to give your roses the best care possible during the growing season. This gives them more of a chance of getting through winter unscathed and with minimal damage.

These pre-winter landscape maintenance tasks can help prepare your yard for upcoming cool weather. Overlooking these tasks can set you back during the spring season. These pre-winter tasks will help ensure your landscape always looks and performs its best year-round.

Architectural Landscape Design: Helping Homeowners Enjoy Better Living

Here at ALD, our top priority is creating living spaces that are right for you. Our landscape design team will work with you from concept to construction to create the right landscape for your personal needs. Contact us today for a free consultation to explore your next outdoor living project.