Living in a climate which experiences hot summers and freezing winters means that it is particularly essential to prepare the yard for the cold. Without taking the time to do this means that it may take longer for your yard to look good when it warms up again; don't think of it as preparing for the cold but think of it as an early start at spring yard work. Here are a couple simple things that you can do for your yard so that it looks good throughout winter and into spring.
Rake up Fallen Leaves and Organic Debris
Once the leaves start falling try to rake one a week. Cleaning this up often will lighten the load and reduce the time spent each week doing so. If you decide to leave this for a one time clean up try and do it before the snow falls as the build up of wet leaves can suffocate and kill the grass underneath.
Instead of throwing the many bags of leaves away, take them to a local leaf compost program or add them to your own compost or use as mulch. There is an abundant amount of nutrients in these fallen leaves that it would be a shame to waste.
Remove Dead Annuals and prune dead growth
Annuals die as soon as the first freeze and will no longer look very good. Save the trouble of having to do this in the spring by removing them as soon as they die. Also, prune any dead growth from conifers and add these to your compost.
Be careful of removing perennials that may look dead. Once the cold hits the plants top growth can die back and remain dormant until the ground thaws. This can make it look as if these plants are no longer good but when in doubt wait till the next spring to see if they grow back.
Fertilize, Water and Cut Grass
Fertilize and water your lawn so that it will have the nutrients needed through the winter. You may be concerned that it is too cold to water but it is necessary so that the roots do not dry out and the ice formed in the ground can actually protect the roots. When cutting your grass for the last time make sure to leave some length. Longer grass requires longer roots which means the grass is likely to survive the season.
Word of the Day: Actinomycete
The microorganism responsible for compost smell. It is the vegetative part of fungus.