Summer doesn’t technically end until the end of September, but depending on where you live, the first frost of fall can be as early as mid-August! The first fall frost is the first day after summer when it’s cold enough for the ground to freeze, which will kill annual plants and send perennials into dormancy for the winter. But don’t worry, your yard can easily make it through the winter if you give it a little help! Here are some tips and tricks to get your yard ready for winter!
Get Your Yard Ready For Winter
Most of the plants in my herb garden are annuals, which means they go through their entire growth cycle from seeds to flowering within one growing season (basil is a perfect example). But there are a few perennials (plants that go dormant during winter and then sprout again from the existing root system) in the yard too, like our lilac trees and our peonies, and those need a little bit of love right near the end of summer to help prepare them for the cold!
Here are my favorite tips and tricks for helping your lawn and garden survive the cold weather!
1. Keep watering and mowing your lawn
Fall is the time when grass stops putting its energy into growing blades of grass, and instead starts growing its root system. Your grass will grow slower, but it is still soaking up all the nutrients it can find, so make sure you keep mowing your lawn so that sunlight and water can continue to reach the plant.
2. Fill in bare patches, control weeds, and fertilize
Now is the perfect time to prepare your lawn to be lush and green in spring! If you have any bald patches, fill them in using a grass patch repair mix from your local hardware store. And once those patches are fixed up, put out any weed control during early- to mid-fall. If you kill the weeds now, they won’t regrow in spring! Once you’re pretty sure the weeds are dead all the way down to their root system, put out lawn fertilizer (mid- to late-fall). The fertilizer will provide the necessary nutrients to help your lawn survive the cold winter!
3. Prune, mulch, and transplant your perennials
If you have perennials in your yard, prune them back to help protect their extremities from the cold weather. Every perennial is different, so ask around at your local nursery or search online to find instructions for your specific plants.
If you need to transplant anything, now is the time to do it! Your plants will soon stop producing leaves and focus instead on growing a deep root system, so if you need to move a tree or shrub, do it now so it can spend the next few months developing those roots!
And of course, don’t forget to mulch around the base of all of your perennials to help insulate and protect the plants’ roots!
I found this awesome Rubbermaid Roughneck trash can at Home Depot, and it’s perfect for pruning! Just toss the branches into the trash can as you cut them off; no more making a pile on the ground and having to move it later, branch by branch.
4. Clean up any annuals
Annuals don’t last over the winter, so as soon as your annuals are done producing leaves or flowers, pull them out of your garden bed. It makes for a lot less cleanup in spring if you pull them out now! Plus your yard will look cleaner over the winter without the dead plants hanging around. 🙂
5. Rake up fallen leaves
Raking leaves isn’t a fun job, but it’s got to be done! Rake your leaves as they fall; don’t wait for a tree to drop all its leaves. Fallen leaves will clump together if they get wet and they can suffocate your grass and lead to fungal infections, so clean those leaves up as soon as they drop!
6. Keep composting
If you have a compost bin, you can add any fallen leaves as you rake them up! The leaves will help insulate the pile and keep it warm so it can keep decomposing throughout the winter. And don’t forget to keep turning your compost throughout the winter to help keep the temperature in the pile consistent.
7. Protect your potted plants
The stems and leaves of plants can go dormant over winter, but their roots can’t, so make sure you protect the roots of any potted plants. For the same reason you mulch around your perennials, you want to insulate your potted plants to help protect the roots from the cold. Try to protect the plant from huge temperature swings by moving it to the shadiest side of your house, and putting the pot on dirt instead of on the pavement; this will help protect the plant from soaking up too much heat from the sun during the day and then freezing at night.
You can also wrap the pot itself in a blanket, bury the pot in soil up to the top of the container, or even put the pot inside a second, larger pot to help insulate the roots of the plant.
8. Get your gardening gear stored away
Once you finish prepping your yard for winter, get all your gardening gear put away. You won’t need your seed starter kits, trowels, fertilizer, hand rakes, etc. during the winter, but you’ll want easy access to them as soon as spring hits! I found an 18 gallon Rubbermaid storage tote at Home Depot that is perfect for the job!
All of my hand tools, sprinklers, hose attachments, small pots, seed starters, etc. are in the bucket so that I can close the lid and store it over winter. But as soon as the weather warms up again, I can easily find everything I need to get my yard ready for spring!
What do you do to get your yard ready for winter?
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Disclosure: I received compensation from Pollinate Media and Rubbermaid in exchange for this post. But the Rubbermaid products from Home Depot are all seriously amazing and all opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂
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