How to Prepare Your Backyard For Winter

Patio Maintenance

While winter means being cooped up indoors for hours engaging in your favourite activity while sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate, it also means spending the least amount of time tending to your outdoor spaces. Before the cooler months begin to roll in, ensure that your garden, patio, and landscaping are in tip-top shape to enjoy a colourful spring. Here are some ways to keep your outdoor spaces winter-proof, whether the season brings you frosty mornings or rainy afternoons.

Preparing Your Lawn

Maintaining your lawn is a year-round affair. Just because you are about to say goodbye to mowing, weeding and raking doesn’t mean you have to abandon lawn maintenance altogether. A little winter lawn care always goes a long way to helping your yard survive the cold months and look lovely when warmer weather sets in. 

Below are simple steps to give your lawn the TLC it deserves.

Aerate

Aerating involves creating holes in the soil to reduce soil compaction mainly caused by heavy foot traffic during summer. Its advantages include letting air circulate through the soil, improving drainage, and allowing winter rains to penetrate the grassroots – giving you a healthier lawn come spring. Depending on the size of your lawn, you can either aerate it yourself or hire a professional.

Fertilise

Feeding the grass is vital. After aeration, it is an ideal time to apply slow-release winter lawn fertiliser on the entire lawn thoroughly. This promotes shoot and root growth, giving you an amazing display of green in the middle of winter.

Maintain Lawn Height

Lawns continue to grow during winter, albeit at a slower pace. Professionals recommend keeping your lawn at short-medium length, as grass taller than five to six centimetres prevents sunlight from penetrating through and encourages pests to seek shelter from the cold. On the other hand, giving your grass a low cut makes it vulnerable to winter weeds.

Preparing Your Plants

Not considering putting your garden to rest during the cooler months? Brighten up drab winter days by filling your garden with flowering plants, or harvest your own produce by growing a winter vegetable garden. Here are some ideas on what to plant in winter and more, whether you are in a tropical region or in a cooler zone.

Vegetables and Herbs

If you live in an area that enjoys a warm, tropical climate, opt for greens ranging from broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower to lettuce, or root and tuber crops including beetroot, carrot, potato and sweet potato. Then there are the usual tomatoes, garlic and onions, and the occasional sweet corn, pumpkin and zucchini.

Integrate herbs such as basil, coriander, marjoram, oregano, parsley, thyme and winter tarragon for them to thrive. Meanwhile, silverbeet, turnip, Chinese broccoli and cabbage, broad beans, English spinach, potato, carrot, cabbage and cauliflower grow best in cooler climes. Put in chives, lemongrass, mint, rosemary, coriander, rosemary, and your winter garden is good to go. Keep in mind that veggies like the sun, so position them in a spot that gets more winter sun.

Flowering Plants

You don’t have to wait for spring to enjoy a space bursting with a riot of colours. No matter which region you live, there are flowers that easily thrive in winter.

Begonia, foxglove, snapdragon, pansies, calendula, geranium and alyssum are some of the flowering plants that are perfect for colder regions, while marigold, petunia, verbena, zinnia, cyclamen, lobelia, ageratum, forget-me-not and pansies grow well in Mediterranean-like surroundings. 

Do visit your local nursery for some advice if you are not sure which cool blooms to plant.

Mulch

Maintaining soil moisture and inhibiting weed growth when temperatures drop is easier done through mulching. Either use organic elements like autumn leaves, grass clippings and barks, or inorganic material like pebbles. Water the soil first then mulch, or mulch after the rain.

Cover Your Winter Vegetable Garden

There are reasons why vegetable covers were invented. They protect crops from frost and wind, repel insects and help retain moisture. Don’t forget to install a veggie patch cover on your garden, but remove it once you see wilting or leaf damage.

Cleaning Your Gutters

Gutters need VIP treatment as they receive an influx of rain, or snow, during the winter months. Failing to remove accumulated autumn leaves, twigs, dust and other debris can block your gutters and result in water damage, mould growth and pest infestation.

Ensure you do a good gutter clean or employ a professional and save yourself from costly repairs in the future.

Preparing Your Patio

A drop in temperature should not stop you from outdoor entertaining. Making simple adjustments and adding bits and pieces here and there are easy ways that can help transform your patio into a haven of warmth and relaxation.

Fireplace or Firepit

Conversations around an outdoor fireplace or fire pit while toasting marshmallows over the flames are the kind of beautiful memories people cherish forever. 

Outdoor heat sources could be wood-burning or gas-powered, but if you have a wood-burning fireplace or fire pit, make sure you remove leaves and other debris before lighting it up. Never use painted, stained or pressure-treated wood, plywood or driftwood as alternative firewood as these pose a health risk. 

The best firewood is oak, beech and birch as they burn longer. Pine, fir, cedar and spruce are best avoided as these burn fast.

Lighting

Get your outdoor area winter party-ready by checking existing lighting and replacing bulbs. It would be great to string fairy lights to create a fun and cosy vibe, and add lighting along pathways and decks. For lights that are more economical and require less maintenance, use LEDs.

Furniture

To extend the lifespan of your outdoor essentials, cover aluminium or plastic pieces with a thin coat of car wax, and wicker furniture with paste wax.    

If you have furniture made of metal, inspect for signs of rust, remove the rust and coat the pieces with a silicone sealant. However, the best way to protect your outdoor furniture from the harsh season is to store it away in the basement, garage, or storage shed.

Pavers

Pavers should be cleared of autumn leaves and other debris before winter arrives to prevent staining. Sealing them is also essential to protect them from water damage and erosion. You can hire a professional to do all these, or better yet, invest in a patio awning.


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