Have you winterized your yard or garden landscape yet? I’m working getting ready for winter at my place. I live and work on a ranch in Eastern Colorado, between the Denver and Colorado Springs metro areas. Compared to my old home in Texas, winter starts early here and it lasts a lot longer. Even though I’ve lived in Colorado almost 6 years, I am still learning how to cope with winter. This year, I started getting ready for winter in early October. That was around the time that our first snow had been forecast. Until this last week, we had not had any bitterly cold days. So, when the weather would warm back up, I would start acting like I did in the summer. Water hoses came back out. Doors were left open. Basically, I opted to enjoy the nice weather.
Even though there was no snow in the forecast for today, it started snowing when I was out feeding the animals this morning. As I did my chores, I realized that I needed to finish winterizing. Otherwise, I was risked trying to finish up my tasks when the temperatures were in a free-fall. That is never fun. Yes….that has happened before.
Anyway, since winter has not hit most parts of the country, I’ve decided to share my November landscape winterizing checklist.
1. Mow one last time
I live on a ranch with 80 acres. This year, I mowed the area around the house and barns one last time.
-Mowing in the fall uses up the gas in the lawnmowers and diesel in the tractor, so it doesn’t get old.
-Mowing makes the yard and pastures look neat and even. (Maybe manicured is a better word. Mowing makes the pastures and yard look manicured)
-Mowing is a nice way to spend a little time outdoors before the temperatures drop below the freezing mark.
-When it does snow, the he snow looks prettier and cleaner if there is not a lot of brown grass is not sticking up.
-If the grass is all one height, the grass will receive an even amount of sunlight. In the spring, this can contribute to a healthier lawn or pasture .
-If you mow one last time in the fall, the dead grass clippings will have all winter to disintegrate and improve the quality of the soil.
2. If needed, give your tress and shrubs a good watering before the ground freezes.
In the Colorado Springs area, we live in a semi-arid climate. Thus, it is especially important to water the trees periodically in the late fall and the winter. ( I prefer not to tell you all how many trees that I have possibly killed in Colorado because I didn’t water them enough. Just know… they will die or struggle if they do not get enough water regularly.) In many rural places in Eastern Colorado, the trees around the houses are not native. They were planted by the home owners. Thus, you can not expect the majority of them to live without a little bit of tender loving care in dry periods.
Snapshot: Light snow was starting to fall in Colorado Springs area this morning. I still had a water hose, chicken water dish and metal furniture out.
For most plants and trees, fall can be a good time to prune. If in doubt, be sure to read up on the pruning requirements for the species of trees, roses or bushes that you have. For example, you should not prune hydrangea’s and lilacs in the fall otherwise they will not bloom next spring.
Pruning keeps plants from wasting energy/resources on unwanted growth
Get rid of dead or broken branches and stems. You might be able to use the small branches and stems as kindling for your fireplace, wood burning stove or fire pit.
4. Protect potted plants by moving them indoors. Protect tender plants, such as rose bushes, with extra mulch.
5. Consider moving pots, lawn furniture into a shed or the garage for winter.
This will extend the useful life of your pots, furniture and tools.
- Clay pots soak up moisture. When it freezes, the freeze and thaw process will cause them to break.
- Metal can rust.
- Paint can start chipping and peeling if left outdoors.
6. Wrap pipes and cover faucets if necessary.
In Texas, we always covered or wrapped water faucets in the winter just in case it froze. In Colorado, frost free hydrants are commonly used to prevent outdoor water sources from freezing. Even so, you should pay attention to your hydrants. If frost free hydrants are not properly installed, it will freeze.
For example, I have a frost free hydrant in the horse barn that was not installed properly. While it never busted after a freeze, there would be enough ice in the line to keep the hydrant from being operable. So, before freezes, I learned to make certain that it was wrapped and covered.
7. Get a soil test done
The fall is a good time to get your soil tested. The knowledge gained will give you a jump start on the spring.
Getting a soil test done will save you time and money. The results will give you an idea of whether you need to fertilize or not. If so, what do you need to fertilize with? Maybe more importantly, are there any fertilizers or soil amendments should you avoid.
7. Take care of your tools and hoses
-If you live in area that freezes – drain your rain barrels even if they are made out of a plastic material. I learned the hard way that when water freezes, it expands and pushes out the edges of plastic barrels and causes the bottom to no longer be flat.
-Ensure water hoses are completely drained. Ideally, bring them inside as well. This needs to be done before it freezes since frozen hoses don’t roll up very well.
-Bring tools into dry place.
-Mower – clean and service
8. Make certain that you can get to your snow removal equipment.
- Don’t wait until it snows to start looking for your snow shovel or ice scraper.
- If you use a tractor or snow blower, make certain that these items have been serviced. You want it to start when you need it.
- It also might be a good idea to have a slow trickle battery charger on hand for your equipment. Cold temperatures drain some batteries really fast. For example, it can be very frustrating when you need to use the tractor to clear snow but the battery is dead.
The time that you spend winterizing your lawn, garden and landscape will pay off in the spring. After you have completed winterizing, be sure to take some time to enjoy the beauty of winter.
How do your winterize your lawn and garden landscape each year?
About the Author:
Sondra is a real estate agent that specializes in Colorado country lifestyle properties. Her family has a small, diversified ranch with free-range chickens, pigs, sheep and horses. In her free time, she enjoys photography and writing.