Winter is coming – is your yard ready? Frost, snow, icy rains, and strong winds can do a surprising amount of damage to vegetation, masonry, and pavement. Many people resign themselves to replacing their plants or repairing their home’s hardscaping in the spring. However, you do not have to let winter win! Here are 5 simple ways to ward off winter’s chill and save yourself some time and money come March:
Tuck your plants in for the winter
Losing all of your trees, shrubs, and flowers to frost is not inevitable or unavoidable. The first thing you want to do is tuck your plants in for winter with a nice insulating blanket of mulch. For ground cover you can use straw or dead leaves. Help your lawn continue to receive the nutrients it needs over the next few months by fertilizing at least a couple of times before December.
Use a tree blanket or burlap to protect trees and plants from cold temperatures and winter sunscald, as well as from hungry critters who tend to go looking in people’s gardens for an easy food source when the temperatures drop.
Bring your potted plants inside. If there are any plants you can’t move, be careful not to let salt-treated snow and ice come into contact with them. The salt can hurt the plant by either keeping water from reaching the plants roots or building up to toxic levels in the leaves after being absorbed by the roots.
Clear a path
Although a shovel is usually the best way to clear your driveway and walkway without damaging your hardscaping, here are a few things to keep in mind. Do not pour hot water on snow to accelerate the melting process. You will turn your paths into small ice skating rinks.
Additionally, de-icing products should not be used on concrete less than six months old. Any formula containing ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate (usually sold as fertilizers) will damage masonry so if you have a stone drive or walkway, skip these! And de-icers, like salt, can harm nearby plant life so take care when applying not to let it come into contact with vegetation.
Consider installing heated driveways and walkways. Snow-melting cables are placed underground so that you do not have to worry about snow or ice building up above ground. However, the installation of a heated path is a rather complex electrical and landscaping project, so you might want to call a professional to help you tackle this one.
Keep an eye on outdoor water features
For outdoor ponds, remove plants and any animal life that can’t sustain freezing temperatures. Thoroughly clean the pond and then remove the pump. A water pump is susceptible to cracking if frozen, irreversibly damaging its internal electrical system. Refill the pond with water. Keeping water in the unit means that when it freezes over, winter debris can’t get in to the pond.
Fountains, on the other hand, should be drained. If it is possible to move the unit, store the fountain in a shed until spring. If it is going to remain outside, use a fountain cover that can keep moisture out over the next few months. Apply a surface sealer if you haven’t already to cast stone foundations to prevent water from entering and cracking surfaces.
The same goes for pools – drain, clean, and cover. Additionally, ensure that plumbing to and from the pool is protected from freezing.
Remove yard debris
Most gardeners know the importance of pruning many trees and shrubs in the winter so that they can flower come spring. However, it is also important to identify possible hazards and remove them from your yard as well. These include heavy branches that are susceptible to falling in the event of a heavy frost or ice storm. Remove tree branches that sway close to power lines, and promptly dispose of yard debris before animals or pests decide to nest in them.
Create an outdoor living space
Don’t let winter keep you from enjoying your yard! Design and build an outdoor living space where you can keep warm even while being outdoors. Fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, and heat lamps all make it possible to be comfortable outside. The right contractor can help you create an outdoor space that is usable year-round.
Responsible Contractors is here to help when you are ready to start winterizing your yard. Search our free directory anonymously to find the right qualified, verified contractors for your project. Whether winter in your area lasts a few weeks or half a year, there are lots of ways to prevent losing your landscaping and hardscaping elements to freezing temps and snow.