After a long, hot summer followed by a long, hot fall, it’s finally begun to cool down here in the coastal region of North Carolina. This is the time of year that I love. There’s a cool nip in the air, yet it isn’t freezing cold. It’s the perfect time to get out in the yard. This is the perfect time to tackle these 5 essential jobs to get your yard ready for winter.
1-RAKE THOSE LEAVES
I know just how futile it seems when you’re raking leaves. It feels like a never-ending chore during the autumn. You rake them up, sit back to admire your work…only to realize that a giant gust of wind has blown more leaves off of the trees and onto your freshly raked yard!
But as we head into mid-November, this process should be just about complete. Give your yard one good final raking. Here’s why you shouldn’t skip that last raking of the year.
Leaving the leaves lying on the ground is a bad idea for several reasons. First, they make your yard look messy. Second, wet leaves can cause mildew and disease to the grass. Finally…and most importantly to me…if you rake up the leaves in the fall, you won’t need to do it in the spring when you’re itching to get out and start planting!
2-AERATE THE LAWN
Spend a couple of hours aerating your lawn before the winter. It doesn’t matter if you use the coring or slicing method. Get the lawn aerated in the late fall, before the snow flies (in the northern climates) or your grass goes dormant (for those of us in the south).
This is an optimal time to aerate your lawn. You are done with mowing for the season, so you’re not clogging the aeration holes up with grass clippings. Smart, right?
3-COLLECT AND STORE AWAY POTS AND ORNAMENTS
When you’ve carefully and lovingly collected lovely pots, lawn ornaments, statues, or windchimes, you want them to last year after year.
Collect all your pots. Discard the now withered plants, dump out the old potting soil, give them pots a quick cleaning. Also, collect your lawn ornaments and yard decor and give them a good clean-up.
I store all these items inside our barn. I put them in a corner and cover them up with an old sheet to keep them free of dust and ready to put back out in March.
4-CUT OFF OUTSIDE WATER AND WINTERIZE SPIGOT
Unhook your garden hose, carefully drain all the water out of it. Coil up the hose and store it away for the winter.
In a very cold climate, cut off the water to your outdoor spigot, open up the valve, and leave it in an open position for the entire cold season.
However, in a mild winter climate (like where I live), you may want to keep your spigot accessible for warm winter days when you want to wash your car! We purchased an insulated cover that goes over the spigot. It has worked well, no problem for years. Check guidelines for your area on how this is done most effectively in your zone.
5-TRIM BACK PERENNIALS
If you have perennial plants that you’ve cultivated for months, it’s sad to have to cut them all back! But cutting them back before they suffer frost damage will make them healthier in the springtime.
Be sure to use trimmers with good, sharp blades so you don’t smash the plant. You want good, clean cuts. Your reward will come in the spring when your perennials come back to greet you.
These 5 essential jobs to get your yard ready for winter are tedious. The cleaning up after the planting season lacks that feeling of wonder you get when you are planting in the spring. But remember, spring is just a few short months away. And the effort you make now will make it easier to get the garden ready for next season!