Get Your Yard Ready For Winter!

Summer doesn’t technically end until the end of September, but depending on where you live, the first frost of fall can be as early as mid-August! The first fall frost is the first day after summer when it’s cold enough for the ground to freeze, which will kill annual plants and send perennials into dormancy for the winter. But don’t worry, your yard can easily make it through the winter if you give it a little help! Here are some tips and tricks to get your yard ready for winter!

Get your yard ready for winter

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Get Your Yard Ready For Winter

Most of the plants in my herb garden are annuals, which means they go through their entire growth cycle from seeds to flowering within one growing season (basil is a perfect example). But there are a few perennials (plants that go dormant during winter and then sprout again from the existing root system) in the yard too, like our lilac trees and our peonies, and those need a little bit of love right near the end of summer to help prepare them for the cold!

Here are my favorite tips and tricks for helping your lawn and garden survive the cold weather!

1. Keep watering and mowing your lawn

Fall is the time when grass stops putting its energy into growing blades of grass, and instead starts growing its root system. Your grass will grow slower, but it is still soaking up all the nutrients it can find, so make sure you keep mowing your lawn so that sunlight and water can continue to reach the plant.

2. Fill in bare patches, control weeds, and fertilize

Now is the perfect time to prepare your lawn to be lush and green in spring! If you have any bald patches, fill them in using a grass patch repair mix from your local hardware store. And once those patches are fixed up, put out any weed control during early- to mid-fall. If you kill the weeds now, they won’t regrow in spring! Once you’re pretty sure the weeds are dead all the way down to their root system, put out lawn fertilizer (mid- to late-fall). The fertilizer will provide the necessary nutrients to help your lawn survive the cold winter!

3. Prune, mulch, and transplant your perennials

If you have perennials in your yard, prune them back to help protect their extremities from the cold weather. Every perennial is different, so ask around at your local nursery or search online to find instructions for your specific plants.

If you need to transplant anything, now is the time to do it! Your plants will soon stop producing leaves and focus instead on growing a deep root system, so if you need to move a tree or shrub, do it now so it can spend the next few months developing those roots!

And of course, don’t forget to mulch around the base of all of your perennials to help insulate and protect the plants’ roots!

get your yard ready for winter

I found this awesome Rubbermaid Roughneck trash can at Home Depot, and it’s perfect for pruning! Just toss the branches into the trash can as you cut them off; no more making a pile on the ground and having to move it later, branch by branch.

4. Clean up any annuals

Annuals don’t last over the winter, so as soon as your annuals are done producing leaves or flowers, pull them out of your garden bed. It makes for a lot less cleanup in spring if you pull them out now! Plus your yard will look cleaner over the winter without the dead plants hanging around. 🙂

5. Rake up fallen leaves

Raking leaves isn’t a fun job, but it’s got to be done! Rake your leaves as they fall; don’t wait for a tree to drop all its leaves. Fallen leaves will clump together if they get wet and they can suffocate your grass and lead to fungal infections, so clean those leaves up as soon as they drop!

6. Keep composting

If you have a compost bin, you can add any fallen leaves as you rake them up! The leaves will help insulate the pile and keep it warm so it can keep decomposing throughout the winter. And don’t forget to keep turning your compost throughout the winter to help keep the temperature in the pile consistent.

7. Protect your potted plants

The stems and leaves of plants can go dormant over winter, but their roots can’t, so make sure you protect the roots of any potted plants. For the same reason you mulch around your perennials, you want to insulate your potted plants to help protect the roots from the cold. Try to protect the plant from huge temperature swings by moving it to the shadiest side of your house, and putting the pot on dirt instead of on the pavement; this will help protect the plant from soaking up too much heat from the sun during the day and then freezing at night.

You can also wrap the pot itself in a blanket, bury the pot in soil up to the top of the container, or even put the pot inside a second, larger pot to help insulate the roots of the plant.

8. Get your gardening gear stored away

Once you finish prepping your yard for winter, get all your gardening gear put away. You won’t need your seed starter kits, trowels, fertilizer, hand rakes, etc. during the winter, but you’ll want easy access to them as soon as spring hits! I found an 18 gallon Rubbermaid storage tote at Home Depot that is perfect for the job!

get your yard ready for winter

All of my hand tools, sprinklers, hose attachments, small pots, seed starters, etc. are in the bucket so that I can close the lid and store it over winter. But as soon as the weather warms up again, I can easily find everything I need to get my yard ready for spring!

What do you do to get your yard ready for winter?

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Disclosure: I received compensation from Pollinate Media and Rubbermaid in exchange for this post. But the Rubbermaid products from Home Depot are all seriously amazing and all opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Cheryl @ Greenwood Nursery says

    9 years ago

    Great reminders, especially the last one. Gardening tools are an investment and should be treated as so.

  2. Rachel Rockwell says

    9 years ago

    This makes me ready to have a yard again. Saving this for future use!

  3. Melissa@TheHappierHomemaker says

    9 years ago

    Great tips Jessi! I totally didn’t know that about the grass working on it’s root system this time of year!

  4. Gwen says

    9 years ago

    Winter? I’m still in Spring…

    Great tips, yo!

  5. Mary ange says

    9 years ago

    I have a lot of sweet mint. I really love it in ice tea but it only lasts a short while on the counter or in the refrigerator. If I tie it to dry it is there a way to still add it to iced tea?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      9 years ago

      Absolutely! You can make iced tea out of dried mint or fresh mint. There are a few ways to do it; normally you would steep the dried mint leaves in hot water, just like making hot tea (I would do 2 teaspoons of dried mint per cup of hot water for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how strong you like it). Then add 2 more cups of cold water, sugar to taste, and add some ice. That should cool it down enough to drink pretty quickly!

      Or if you want to brew it cold, just increase the amount of mint (so about 3 teaspoons of dried mint per cup of cold water) and let it sit for as long as you can. It takes longer for the cold water to pull the flavor out of the mint; I usually leave mine overnight, but you can check on it every once in a while and see, depending on how strong you like it!

      Or if you just want to add a bit of mint flavor to an already made iced tea, like a sweet tea, just put about 1 teaspoon of dried mint per cup of tea in a tea bag, coffee filter, metal tea ball, or any sort of strainer, and drop it right into your glass or pitcher! It will lightly flavor the tea. Hope that helps!

  6. Laura Beth says

    9 years ago

    We don’t have a yard right now, but I’m definitely saving these tips for later. Those tubs are perfect for storing your garden supplies!

  7. Courtenay @ The Creek Line House says

    9 years ago

    Great post! I’m starting to think about getting the property ready for Winter already too. We didn’t do such a great job last year when the baby was on the way, so I’m hoping this year will go a little better!

  8. Ace says

    9 years ago

    This is a great tutorial! Right now is the perfect time to get the garden in check!

  9. JaneEllen says

    9 years ago

    Great post and wonderful tips, will have to refer back to them all to get our yard ready for winter. And we do have harsh winters sometimes. According to Farmer’s almanac we’re supposed to get harsh temps, duh we had harsh temps last winter due to inversions that last for weeks in Grand Valley (Grand Junction, CO)Do you live in cold winter area? We lived in MT and KY before CO, and before MT, San Diego and before S.D. Tucson, AZ.
    I pinned this post as I think it will be quite helpful to getting our yard ready. Our lilac bushes never bloomed as just as they were ready to we got a cold snap, doggone it as love having the lilac blooms in house spreading their heavenly aroma. Thanks for great ideas. Happy week

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      9 years ago

      Yep, we live in Chicago, so the winters get quite cold here! 🙂

  10. keri @ shaken together says

    9 years ago

    Thanks for all the tips, Jessi! I need to take a trip around our yard and get moving on some of these same things now!

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