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How to winterize your landscape in 7 easy steps | Leaf Probably

It has been a mild winter in many parts of the country so far, but sooner or later snow and ice will appear every year. Have you taken the important steps to ensure your property has been thoroughly winterized?

Below are seven easy-to-understand steps to overwintering, overcoming hurdles, and implementing solutions that benefit landscapes over the long term.

1. Cut back perennials

Whether you’re a business owner, property owner, or facility manager, if you’re responsible for overseeing a landscape of plants, pruning perennials is tip #1. It’s not just an aesthetic practice, it’s removing dead leaves from Perennials allow the underground plant structures to do their work undisturbed during the cooler winter months. Start by removing the decaying foliage and consider mulching perennials to protect their root systems from harsh winter conditions. As colder weather approaches, try to tackle this task before the first frost, but don’t fret if you miss this window, as perennials can still be winterized as long as they aren’t buried in snow.

2. Remove these leaves

Raking leaves is possibly the most common step when it comes to preparing a landscape for winter, and for good reason – it’s necessary! While a lawn can typically tolerate quite a bit of leaf cover and still be healthy, removing the leaves will help your grass grow. Keeping a thick layer of leaves on a landscape deprives the grass of sunlight, which can hinder proper growth during this important revitalization period.

3. Plant for spring

While you may be focused on short-term tasks during the winter months, it’s important to think ahead to spring to maintain a landscape that thrives year-round. Ideally, spring bulb planting should be done before the ground freezes, especially for early flowering bulbs like hyacinths, daffodils and even tulips. The roots will be active for much of the winter, even when the rest of the plant is dormant, so planting in the colder months will allow the roots to become established before spring and give the plant a better chance of healthy life once it sprouts from the ground. Before you plant, consult this USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to help you determine the plant species that will thrive in your area.

4. Clean drains and turn off irrigation systems

When temperatures drop, turn off the main water source for all irrigation systems and blow out the system. This step is especially important for those who oversee landscapes in colder regions of the country. If you live in an area where the frost line is below your irrigation system, you run the risk of your pipes freezing if you don’t blow out the system. In addition, it is important to ensure that all drains are cleaned and not covered with dirt prior to the winter season to prevent cold weather clogs.

5. Opt for plaster of paris as a salt protector

For many of us, winter brings snow and with it, inevitably, icy sidewalks, parking lots, and streets. In areas where you disperse heavy salt and ice melt throughout the winter, use plaster of paris to cushion the damage caused by snow and ice control measures. Simply spread the plaster in areas around sidewalks and driveways where snow melts. While this practice doesn’t stop damage from salt, it does make the damage less severe.

6. Prepare your tools

If your property requires the use of winter tools like a snow blower, remember to properly inspect and prepare them before first use. Also, make sure you take the time to clean and properly store any tools that won’t be used during the colder months. Add fuel stabilizer or non-ethanol fuel to equipment not used in winter and drain fuel from tank to protect engine and fuel lines. Leaving the wrong fuel in the tank can result in reduced engine efficiency and the possibility of fuel line and carburetor deterioration.

7. Keep track of upkeep

Once you have winterized practices in place, further management of the landscape depends on what part of the country you are in. Those in the north can struggle with snow all winter. A cut can be made between snowfalls. Southern locations may need mowing, particularly in transition zone areas, or even tending to winter flower beds. You can kill pansies and mulch flower beds all winter in areas without snow cover. Many shrubs benefit from winter pruning – it gets them ready to pop out and look great in spring.

While it’s easy to slow down maintenance when temperatures drop (who wants to go outside and mulch when it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit?), it’s important for business and property owners and facility managers to remember, that the maintenance of the landscape does not diminish even in cold months. Establishing a winterizing system can help you and your team create a healthy and welcoming outdoor environment year-round.

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