With fall officially here, now is the time to survey your yard and prepare it for the long cold winter.
Step 1: Store away lawn furniture and other outdoor paraphernalia. Empty flower pots, pick up branches, and put away anything else that may cause dead spots in the lawn if left out over the winter.
Step 2: Mow the lawn, fallen leaves and all, one last time. Set the blade 2 inches or higher to assure a healthy lawn in the spring. Depending on the mower, it may take a several passes to mulch the remaining leaves into the lawn, but these leaves will supply the grass with nutrients to make it through the winter months.
Step 3: For an added boost in the spring, sprinkle cotton burr compost over your lawn this fall — much like you would sprinkle parmesan cheese on a pizza. The added nitrogen from the compost will help jump start your lawn once the snow melts away.
Step 4: Spread a thick layer of mulch around perennial plants and trees to help protect their roots from the cold. Keep the mulch a few inches from the tree trunks to prevent moisture damage.
Step 5: Trim back low hanging or dead branches in the yard. This maintenance trick can help minimize potential damage from ice storms and heavy snows.
Step 6: Disconnect garden hoses and cover outdoor spigots with a Styrofoam cap to protect water lines from freezing.
Step 7: Empty rain barrels and leave the bottom spigot open to prevent frozen rain water from causing wintertime damage to the barrels.
Step 8: Clean out gutters and install gutter guards to assure melting snow and winter rains are diverted away from the home’s foundation.
Step 9: If the home has a working fireplace, wood stove or oil burning furnace, clean the chimney and check the damper to be sure it is working properly.
Step 10: Empty the gas tanks of any power equipment and use up the remaining gas from the extra cans in your garage. Water in the gas from winter condensation is the No. 1 cause of equipment failure in the spring.