5 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR BACKYARD FOR WINTER
Autumn has arrived and now is the time to get your back yard prepped ready for our Canadian winter.
- MANAGE YOUR LEAVES
There are a couple of trains of thought regarding what to do with the leaves in your yard:
Rake them up and put them in your composter or use as mulch around the base of your trees OR bag them up for the annual roadside collection of yard waste that most cities and towns have available.
Leave them on your lawn and run them over with your lawn mower a few times to mulch them up and let them disintegrate over the winter to become a healthy soil additive to your lawn. Check out “For the Greenest Yard, Leave the Leaves Behind”
- WINTERIZE YOUR LAWN
Grass tends to continue to grow when soil temperatures remain above 13 degrees Celsius. This is the time of year when grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Continue to water and mow your lawn as needed, then as the temperature drops, drop the mower’s blade down to its lowest setting for the last 2 cuttings of the year. This will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf browning during the winter.
Wait until mid-to-late fall to apply fertilizer, aerate and fill in the bald spots on your lawn. Most lawn experts agree that if you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. Why you may ask? Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes (the vertical plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface) continue to grow quickly. Applying fertilizer now delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and keep the nutrients in reserve for a healthy spring start. Use an all-in-one lawn repair mixture to fill in the bald spots, which contains grass seed, quick-start fertilizer and organic mulch.
- CLEAN UP YOUR GARDEN BEDS
Once your vegetables have finished their growing season, remove the old plant matter and place it in your compost bin or mulch with your lawn mower. If there are any leaves that appear to be diseased – bag them and remove them completely from your yard to prevent the plant diseases returning to affect your garden in the spring.
Add compost or manure to your vegetable garden beds and then rototill or turn over by hand the soil in your gardens to keep down weeds. You can also test your soil for its PH factor, if it is low this is a good time to add lime since the effects of liming doesn’t show for several months – the soil will be ready for spring planting. Lastly apply a mulch to protect your topsoil from the rigors of winter.
Pull out weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year.
Remove dead annuals from your garden after a frost.
Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlias and gladiola and wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space.
Plant spring flowering bulbs in both your annual and perennial gardens to bring colour early in the spring.
Divide your spring and summer blooming perennial plants and replant.
Winterize your perennial gardens by doing either of these methods (but not both)
- Remove old stalks and leaves and mulch them to keep your beds looking tidier for spring.
- Keep the stalks and leaves where they are, they will serve as natural mulch, providing some insulating protection for the roots of your perennials. Then simply rake them off in the spring.
Leave flowers with seeds for the birds – they will thank you.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR TREES
Fall is the best time to prune and transplant most trees and shrubs. It is also the best time to trim dead branches and shape your trees.
Avoid watering trees in last summer or early autumn before the leaves fall, so they can harden off for the winter. Then in late fall, after the trees have dropped their leaves but before the ground freezes, give both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs a final deep watering to last them thought the winter. Water under the entire canopy area and beyond to cover the entire root area.
- GET YOUR SWING SET READY FOR WINTER
The best way to keep your swing set in great condition for years to come is to inspect it regularly and catch any small issued before they become large ones. Thoroughly inspect your swing set for insect damage and mould in hidden spaces.
To repel yellow jackets and wasps, use a cotton ball and dab interior wooden corners underneath the play set deck with liquid dish soap – do not use insecticides as this is unsafe for children.
Sand any splinters and cracks in the wood and apply a coating of stain and sealer.
Clean up all the fall debris, leaves soaking into the wood can make your playset more prone to mould and mildew damage. Give your swing set a good washing with a hose, deck cleaner and any mild soap. The cleaning will prevent stains and mould and keep your swing set looking new. Cleaning also helps deter wood rot and also requires less applications of stain.
Tighten bolts and screws. If your area experiences heavy snowfall, remove your canopy top and store inside to avoid stretching, sagging or tearing of the material.
Cover your sand box with a secure tarp or plywood lid to prevent moisture and protect the sand from animals using it as a litter box.
Don’t forget that your children can still enjoy their swing set on the milder winter days, swinging on the swings and sliding down the slides (don’t use the slides when the weather is extremely cold to prevent damage).
For more tips check these out