3 Steps for Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

Posted on: 25 September 2019

It can be discouraging in spring when your landscape seems to have taken a turn to the worse over winter. Winter dieback on trees and shrubs, along with dead or moldy lawn spots, can make you wonder where you went wrong when it came to winter maintenance. The following fall landscape tasks can help you avoid some common issues.

1: Clean up leaf litter

All those fallen leaves may look attractive when they first hit the ground, but they will become a nesting ground for pests and disease over the winter months. Further, moisture and sun can't penetrate a dead leaf mat, so the grass and plants beneath will suffer. Take the time to rake up all the leaves on your property before the snow arrives. The leaves can be composted to use in beds come spring. In garden beds, pull up the annual flowers as they die off so their old material isn't left to rot. For most herbaceous perennials, cut back the dead stems to within 6- to 8-inches of the ground. This way the old stems protect the crowns and roots, but there isn't excess material to hosts pests.

2: Mow to the right height

A common mistake is to the "scalp" the lawn by mowing it exceptionally short in the fall. A scalped lawn can't retain moisture well and is more prone to having weeds invade while it is dormant. On the other hand, you also don't want to leave the lawn too long or the excess grass can become matted under the snow, which can lead to fungus and rot. Instead, choose a length between 2 and 2.5 inches for the final mow of the season. This leaves enough length to the grass is self mulching, while also providing a protective layer of dead material on top. Once the grass begins growing in spring, you can easily "mow off" the top inch that suffered winter damage, revealing the fresh green grass below.

3: Prepare your trees and shrubs

Winter is especially hard on trees and shrubs. Make sure any dead or damaged branches are trimmed out in fall before winter storms arrive. Mulch around the base of these plants with a 3-inch layer of mulch to insulate the roots against temperature fluctuations. If you have trees younger than three years that have a southern exposure, wrap the trunks with a tree wrap to prevent winter bark splitting. Conifer shrubs and young trees may also need to be wrapped in burlap to protect them from drying winter winds.

Contact a landscape maintenance service such as Seasons Debris Removal for more help.