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Winterizing Your Yard

Winterizing Your Yard

By Brad Wardle, vice president, B-hyve
Photograph courtesy of B-hyve

If you love gardening, you probably also get a touch of melancholy as the seasons change, the days grow shorter and you put away the mower in exchange for the snow blower. Like me, you may find yourself hanging on to the hope of warm weather, trying to soak up every last moment of yard time.

But spring is always around the corner, and if you want to give your yard the best possible chance to thrive during the next growing season, you need to get ready for the cold now. Winterizing is a vital process for maintaining a healthy lawn and garden. Here are the things to remember.

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The Beds

Clear out all the weeds. Just like fall is defined by raking leaves, summer is when you pull weeds. Fortunately, the onset of fall means you are nearly done – for a few months, at least. Take the opportunity to clear out any weeds that might compete with your plants for nutrients over the cold months, including those that might have strayed into your lawn.

Take a close look at your pH levels. Knowing your soil’s pH level is an important step that will help you take your yard from good to great, and fall is a great time to test it. Neutral pH is the goal: local yard centers can help provide treatments for areas that are either too acidic or too alkaline. This step will help your plants come back stronger than ever.

Cover the beds to keep your plants cozy. Even hardy plants that need months of freezing temperatures to bloom in spring will do better if their roots are covered with an insulating layer of mulch. A couple of inches should do it, but keep it away from the stems of the plants.

The Lawn

Rake the leaves (and rake them again, and again and again…). Raking leaves is the stereotypical fall task for a good reason: it’s a chore that never seems to end. Fortunately, not only does clearing the leaves from the grass help keep your yard tidy,  it’s necessary to stimulate healthy spring growth. Dead leaves and thatch (more on that below) can block water and nutrients from reaching down into the roots.

Aerate and detach to help your lawn breathe. Aeration does more than just make your yard look like you have a dog with a busy digestive system – it lets oxygen feed the roots of the grass. Likewise, high-traffic lawns can easily build up unsightly thatch that hinders growth. Many home improvement stores will rent aerating machines and dethatchers or you can find special boots and rakes to do the job.

Spread seed and fertilize well (but not too much). Cool-weather grass seeds take best over the winter, so spread seed now to help produce a luxurious, green lawn in the spring. Yard centers carry specialty fertilizers designed for winterizing lawns, which will help new and existing roots strengthen during the colder months. As always, be careful not to apply too much fertilizer, or you will end up with burn spots as the season changes once again.

The Rest

Winterize your sprinklers. A trustworthy irrigation system is the lifeblood of many yards and gardens, and taking the time to shut off the water and blow out the system will keep it running well for years to come. Tech tools like Orbit’s B-hyve XD sprinkler timer should be brought inside, and hoses should be emptied, coiled up and stored away.

Show your trees and shrubs some love. Trees and large shrubs do a good job of getting ready for winter all on their own, but you should make sure to water them properly until early autumn. Pause watering once the leaves start to fall, which will signal the trees and shrubs to get ready for the cold. Give them one more good drink after the leaves are gone, but before the ground freezes.

Stow away the patio furniture and yard gnomes. Freezing temperatures are hard on objects meant to be enjoyed in the summer, so most of the objects that spiff up your yard will last longer if you tuck them away for the winter. Wrapping up hard-to-move objects like barbecues, hot tubs and fire pits will also help keep those in good condition – provided you don’t intend to use them in the cold months.

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