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.