Fall Maintenance: Winterizing Your Lawn and Landscape

As fall gradually gives way to winter, it’s time to focus on winterizing your lawn and landscape. Properly winterizing your lawn and equipment is essential for long-lasting tools and a greener, fuller yard next year.

Follow these six steps before the winter hits to extend the life and efficiency of your lawn equipment, better prepare your yard for a harsh winter season and limit your likeliness of weeds next spring when the growing season resumes.

How to winterize your lawn and landscape

1. Provide complete fall maintenance for your lawn

In preparation for winter, your lawn’s root system continues to grow during the fall season. Just as growth above the ground requires proper nourishment, so does the growth beneath the surface. Late fall fertilization will help your lawn improve root growth and build up its strength to endure the upcoming winter months. Nutrients will also be stored by the root system to provide for a quicker “green-up” the following spring.

There may still be a few weeds that can be controlled in the fall, too. If you gradually lower your mowing height toward the very end of the season, you will reduce the tan or brown portion of the grass blades and the chances for diseases, such as snow mold.

2. Properly winterizing your lawn mower

After you have cut grass for the last time, run the engine out of gas so that it’s empty. This is particularly easy if your mower has an inline fuel valve between the tank and the engine.

Whether you do it yourself or take the mower to a local shop, this is also a good time to change the oil and complete any other standard maintenance tasks that your mower requires, such as blade sharpening. Whichever way you choose to get it done, be sure to comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Although you won’t need to do this in the fall or winter, be sure to treat your gasoline with a fuel stabilizer when it’s time to refill the gas can again in the spring. Today’s blended fuels tend to separate over time, which can cause a variety of problems in small engines. After you add treated gasoline to your mower’s tank, be sure to start and run it to circulate the treated gas throughout the engine.

3. Prepare your smaller lawn equipment

Gas-powered trimmers and blowers have smaller engines than lawn mowers, which makes them even more susceptible to problems related to separation, varnish build-up, and other “old fuel” issues. Any fuel left in their tanks should be treated and run through the engine. All lawn equipment should be cleaned and maintained per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

4. Give your lawn and garden hand tools some TLC

Shovels, trowels, garden hoses and such should be cleaned off before you store them for the winter. Use a wire brush to remove caked-on soil and rust and then wipe them down with some motor oil to keep them from rusting again. Unless the handle is varnished wood, it is also a good idea to smooth off any rough spots with sandpaper and wipe them with linseed oil. This will help prevent the wood from drying out and splitting. To maintain garden hoses, disconnect and drain them before storing them indoors.

5. Get your snowblower ready

Was your snowblower serviced before it was put away last spring? Check it out now rather than waiting until the first substantial snowfall before attempting to start it. Besides the engine, inspect common wear parts, such as blades, clutch and belt. Are all the nuts and bolts still in place and properly torqued? The idea is to have your machine ready to go when you need it. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

6. Mark edges and boundaries

Snow has a way of masking where the grass begins along your driveway, sidewalks and curb lines. Adding markers to the edge of your property allows you to see where shoveling and snow blowing should begin and end in order to avoid damaging your lawn. Adding reflective markers along the street line of your property may help road plow operators avoid your lawn.

 

As always, never hesitate to call Spring Green whenever you have questions or concerns about caring for your lawn and landscape. Our team of experts is available before, during and after each growing season.

Fall Chores: 10 Simple Fall Cleanup Tips For The Season

fall chores

One interesting aspect about lawn care, gardening and landscaping is that no two years are ever the same.  Up until the middle of October, the Midwest had been extremely dry and much warmer than usual.  These conditions have delayed the normal fall chores, pushing back such jobs as leaf collection or final mowing to much later in November.

In past years, most leaves have fallen by now and lawns are beginning to harden-off for winter.  There are many, many trees that still have mostly green leaves and the fall leaf color change has just started in some areas.

Although it will soon change, most annual plants are still looking good and only slightly damaged by frost.  The temperatures are forecasted to drop into the lower 20’s for much of the Midwest.  Even the warm season areas are seeing lawns showing signs of frost damage with lawns turning a sort of psychedelic pattern of green and tan colors.  Of course, a short time later, the temperatures rebounded back into the 70’s and 80’s.

Fall Chores and Cleanup Checklist

While waiting for the leaves to drop, here are some other fall chores and projects that can be completed this season:

  1. Plant spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, alliums, etc.
  2. Fall is a great time to divide perennials, except for ones that flower in the fall.  It is best to divide those in the spring.
  3. In areas where the ground freezes, be sure to winterize sprinkler systems by blowing out the water in the lines and shutting down the system for the winter.
  4. In areas where the weather turns cold, turn off water to outside spigots.  At least remove any hoses that are still attached.
  5. Remove leaves and debris out of gutters.
  6. Cover patio furniture or place in a protected area like a shed or garage.
  7. To avoid outdoor pots from breaking during the winter, either cover them and place in a protected area, empty them or move them indoors.
  8. Set up some bird feeders for over-wintering birds like cardinals.
  9. Pull up summer annuals and either compost them or appropriately dispose of them.  Be careful not to compost plants that may have been infected by a disease.  It is better to dispose of those plants.
  10. Winterize lawn mowers and clean garden tools.  A light coating of oil on the tools will keep them from rusting over the winter.

Keep Up With Raking or Mulching Fall Leaves

Don’t let your leaves pile up this fall season. To save some time and effort, grind up leaves with a mower instead of raking them. According to Dr. Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist from Purdue University, tree leaves can be mulched, and the ground up leaves will help to feed the microorganisms in the soil and won’t cause any harm to your grass.

Get started on the fall chores checklist to get your yard ready for winter season. Contact your local Spring-Green if you need help, Spring will return in only 5 months.