Preparing Your Yard for Winter
Welcome to part 3 of our 4 part series on preparing your home for winter. Here in Northern California, we’re fortunate in that we don’t get snow. But we do need to prepare for frost and heavy rains. Some meteorologists are predicting that we’ll be getting an El Nino year. So the good news is it will be a warmer winter (unless you enjoy snow sports), but the bad news is that we will get more rain which could also be considered good news since we would be filling up our reservoirs and aquifers.
So here’s what you can do to get your yard ready for frost and heavy rains:
First things first, you need to remove the debris before winter arrives including leaves, rocks, sticks, trash, and dead flowers. This will keep your yard and flowerbeds looking nice throughout the fall and winter months, as well as reducing the amount of yard work you will need to do in the spring.
Roses, azaleas, and hibiscus will need to be protected against the cold weather. You can get creative with cardboard or garbage bags if you know there is a frost warning. Make certain you hold the cover down in place with stakes, bricks or heavy rocks.
Add mulch around the roots, but make sure it doesn’t touch the base of the plant. Give the plants a good watering before you turn off your sprinklers.
While the weather is still pleasant, put mulch around the base of the trees to help the tree retain water in the roots, and keep the soil at a steady temperature. This also cuts down on the weeds you will have to pull in the spring.
Mulch can be bark chippings, straw, pine needles, or a mixture of things. You can get free chippings by contacting your local tree removers and asking if they’ll drop off some mulch. But be aware that they may have a minimum amount that they drop off.
In a few weeks, you will want to trim your trees, bushes and roses. But, don’t prune now because the buds that will open in the spring have already formed, and you might clip them off accidentally. So what should you trim? Snip off unhealthy or dead sections, and trim off dead flowers.
Also, check to see if branches are close to your house. If they are, trim them back as you don’t want them banging against the house during strong winds.
If you have strawberry plants, they should be covered with layers of straw to keep them protected from getting frostbitten. Plant those bulbs now before the ground gets too hard to dig. You will be well rewarded in the Spring.
You can pull out your summer vegetable garden, or you can leave it to overwinter and see what pops up in the spring.
Consider planting a few cold weather flowers to brighten up your garden.
If you know you’re not going to turn on your sprinklers at all during the winter, then drain them of any water. You would turn off the water supply going to the sprinklers, and then open the drains including the backflow to get all of the water out. Leave the drains open for several hours to ensure it’s completely drained. You can remove the sprinkler heads to allow the water to drain more easily, and you can hook up an air compressor to blow air through the system. Make certain that you’ve set the controller to Off or Rain.
If you’d like more detailed information, check out Irrigation Tutorials’s winterizing directions. There are detailed instructions for both temperate and cold weather.
Make sure your hoses are drained completely, roll them up, and store them away in a shed or garage. Keeping them out of the elements will also prolong the life of the hose.
When do you expect the frost to hit in your area?