With winter fast approaching, autumn is a great time to prepare your yard for the coming winter. Check out our tips for preparing your lawn, garden, and outdoor kitchen for chillier weather.
The lawn is the likely the biggest part of your outdoor space, and it’s far too easy for your grass to succumb to the cold of winter. Ignoring your lawn’s needs could lead to mold, weeds, and plant diseases. Most of your preparations will start in the fall:
- Fertilize your lawn with a quick-release fertilizer. Your grass will remain dormant but well-nourished roots can still grow in temperatures over 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of fertilizer should not exceed more than a pound of nitrogen for every thousand square feet of lawn. Try to keep a balance of nutrients. Too much fertilizer will burn your lawn and increase the chances of lawn disease and ground water contamination.
- You should also aerate your lawn in the fall to remove excess thatch and break up soil. Aerating allows air, sunlight, and the nutrients from your fertilizer to infiltrate deep into the soil.
- Eliminate broadleaf weeds, like the dandelion, early in the fall using a regular herbicide.
Throughout winter, rake up any fallen branches, twigs, large leaves, and other forms of debris. These objects are slow to break down and suffocate your lawn, contributing to mold and rot. Leaves can be returned to the lawn for added nutrients, but make sure to grind them down into more manageable pieces.
The Vegetable Garden
Everything edible should already be picked and removed from the garden. Start pulling everything up by hand. Get rid of any debris and add it to your compost heap, taking care not to add diseased or pest-infected items. Rake up even the smallest weeds and leaves. In order to support another garden in the spring, the soil needs as much sunlight and air as possible. From here, you can either mulch or start a winter garden.
Mulching is the easier option, enriching and protecting the soil for a healthy bed for next spring’s garden. A winter garden is the productive route, though it requires a bit more work. The key to starting a winter garden is to stick with in-season veggies, which includes arugula, lettuce, chard, peas, kale, fava beans, carrots, and green onions. If you do start a winter garden, make sure it gets enough sunlight and protection from strong winds. Figure out how to quickly cover your bed in the event of sudden frosts and cold fronts.
The Outdoor Kitchen
If you don’t think you’ll be using your outdoor kitchen during the winter months, first, shut off all the water, including lines that go to ice makers, sinks, faucets, and hoses. Do this in advance to give the water a chance to dry up. Unplug any electrical items and shut off the gas for your grill. This will prevent any potential hazards or broken equipment and save you some energy.
Empty out your fridge or freezer if you have one. This is also a good opportunity to clean all your appliances and scrub down your grill. Finally, cover up your sink, your grill, and oven to keep out any lawn debris and curious critters. Don’t cover your fridge or ice maker; accumulated moisture under the covers will cause damage to these units.
When the weather warms up this spring, you’ll be glad you’ve taken good care of your outdoor areas so you can fire up that grill for another season of tasty outdoor meals.