Winter Yard Preparation
It used to be the changing color of the leaves announced the season, but these days, it seems that fall is officially here when coffee shops start selling pumpkin spice lattes!

After you have enjoyed your coffee, it’s time to get a few things done for your winter yard preparation and the coming Wisconsin winter. Doing some cleanup and prep this fall will help your lawn and plants survive the winter and enable you to enjoy it sooner in spring. Here are a few landscaping to-do list items.

Winter Yard Preparation Starts with Clean Up

Rake the fallen leaves regularly from both the lawn and flowerbeds to prevent insects and disease infestation. Consider mulching the leaves with a mower and spreading a thin layer of the mulch on the lawn where they will decompose and feed the yard through the winter.

Remove dead branches and foliage, but do not prune trees and plants. This only encourages new growth. Check trees for unstable branches and remove them before heavy snow and wind bring them down and damage property. Once you clear all the leaves and debris, mix the mulch into the flower beds’ soil and other areas that need nutrients.

Aerate and Dethatch the Lawn

Once the yard is cleaned up, the next step in your winter yard preparation is to aerate and dethatch. Aeration is the process of perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps alleviate soil compaction and allows the roots to grow deeply and produce a healthier lawn. It also increases the effectiveness of fertilizers and weed control chemicals. Take this opportunity to also dethatch the lawn by raking out dead yellow and brown grass that lies just under the living, vibrant green grass.

Prepare Your Yard With Fertilizer

It seems backward, but early fall is the best time of year to fertilize. Doing this now provides nutrients to the soil and a food source to the roots during winter. Damage to the grass during winter will be reduced and promote early spring growth. Including a pre-emergent weed killer with the fertilizer prevents fall weeds from growing. A few weeks after applying fertilizer, give your lawn one final mow with the blades set to the lowest height setting (1 ½-2″).

Tend the Garden

Now that the winter yard preparation has been completed, it’s time to prepare your garden for the cold weather. Remove debris and dead plant material. To ensure a healthy garden bed, do not compost diseased or mildew-laden plants. Wait until the leaves on perennials die before cutting them back. If they are still green, the plants are still collecting nutrients. However, it is all right to cut back overgrown or crowded perennials, so the roots of the remaining plants have time to spread before the first frost.

Shrubs and bushes can be wrapped to protect them from heavy snow and cold. Lay down wood chips, straw, or mulch 6 to 8 inches deep to protect plant roots.

To care for a vegetable garden, till the soil after the final harvest. Tilling improves drainage and gives the garden a head start in spring. Just like you did with the lawn, apply a layer of mulch, compost, or fertilizer now, so it has time to break down and enrich the soil in winter. Finally, cover the bed with plastic to protect it from the elements, especially if it is a raised bed.

Prepare Your Lawn Tools and Gutters for Winter

Remove debris from gutters and check for proper drainage so that melting snow can freely flow off and away from the house. Frozen gutters in winter can cause damage to the home, which might not be repaired until spring. Be sure to clean and dry tools and equipment as you put them away. Organizing items in the shed or garage will make access easier if you need to retrieve something in heavy snow or a storm.

A little work this fall will pay off when spring comes by producing healthy gardens and lush lawns. If you need help or direction with your winter yard preparation or landscape, Createscape Landscaping Services is the professional to ask.

Based in Mukwonago, Createscape Landscaping serves all of southeastern Wisconsin and is an award-winning landscape design contractor. For more information, or to hire a professional to do the job for you, give us a call at 262-662-0201 or contact us through our website today!