We just settled into enjoying our landscaped yards, and the temperature dropped. What’s up with that, hey? With an early winter predicted, we are hoping for a few weeks of sunny weather to do outside fall maintenance.
Once your yard is landscaped to your taste, it is important to do a little maintenance every year. A little effort goes a long way. That effort will protect your home’s exterior and landscape and prevent the need for bothersome repair work.
Making a list can be an effective way to schedule your time for outdoor maintenance and pinpoint if you missed something.
Here are some ideas for that checklist:
Trees & Shrubs
The early snowstorms lay heavy on the trees, so check them and your yard for any broken branches and remove them. Without the leaves, it is easier to identify damaged limbs for removal. For extensive pruning, leave it until early spring.
Call a professional arborist, and they will assess your trees, indicating the best time to prune. With large trees, it is often easier and safer to leave it to professional arborists. Watering is important. A good soak for your trees will help them survive the winter.
Cut back the dead vegetation around perennials and apply mulch as extra protection for the winter. Cover cedars with burlap to reduce moisture loss and branch breakage from winter snow and wind. Pruning your shrubs can be left for trimming until just before spring.
Leaves & Weeds
There is a happy medium with leaves. Left on flower and garden beds, they will harbour helpful garden insects over winter. However, dense leaf cover should not be left on lawns. Dense coverage can harbour pests, create lawn mold, smother the grass and hinder spring growth.
Some people use their lawnmowers to chop and pick up the leaves, then deposit those leaves as mulch around sensitive plants and perennials for winter protection. If you pull weeds around the yard now, it will reduce the numbers that resurface in the spring.
Roof, Gutters & Siding
Clean out gutters and downspouts that can get clogged with dirt and leaves. With Calgary’s seasonal Chinooks, we get winter melts that must be diverted away from the roof and foundation. Check your home for any cracks and reseal them. Additionally, check the siding for cracks and holes as you go along. If you find any, seal them to encourage heat retention and keep out pests.
Many people wash the siding before they turn their outside water off for the winter. Your roof should be checked for loose shingles, wear, and cracked seals. Cedar roof shingles require re-staining and sealing about every two years.
While leaves do have some benefits to your garden, they should be raked or mowed off your yard. Keep the lawn cutting height about 1.5 inches; if it is too long, it can trap mold. If your lawn is too short, it may winterkill. You may want to aerate, add topsoil, and over-seed sparse areas of the lawn.
Fall fertilizer with a rating for root growth can be applied to your yard. Test your soil, though, and if it is already frozen, it is too late for fertilizer to be useful.
Decks & Fences
Fall is an excellent time to fix your deck railings for stability and loose hardware. Additionally, wood decks and fences should be re-stained and sealed every 3-4 years. Check for peeling on the surfaces and scrape them smooth.
If you are going to stain and seal, work from dry wood, so it will absorb the materials. Otherwise, a wash with dish soap and water, or a commercial deck cleaner can brighten the surface.
Remove any leaves from the vinyl decks as they will stain them if they left over winter. Look to see that sealing hasn’t cracked or shifted. Washing vinyl decks with a mild soap solution and rinsing with water will extend the life of vinyl decking. Check fences for loose boards and posts.
Fall is a good time to check your patio blocks for wear and repair. Sometimes they move out of place, or the joints can lose filler. Repair is a must because winter temperatures will only increase trouble spots in the spring. A good wash with soapy water and a rinse with the garden hose should be done on patios areas. You could also use a mild commercial patio block cleaner for tougher areas.
Sometimes, a crack appears in the driveway. There are several reasons why a crack may appear, including frost heaves. Fall and spring are both great times to fix cracks. Because driveways are made of concrete, asphalt, or aggregate materials, each has special fillers to eliminate cracks. Talking with a professional contractor can give you an idea if it is an easy fix. They can describe the methods to repair a simple crack or advise you if more extensive work needs to be done.
Remove any summer lighting around your yard that may not hold up to colder temps. If you’re planning to hang Christmas lights, fall is an ideal time to do it. Before the snow comes to stay and creates hazards. For lighting you do plan to keep out, check to make sure it is shining in the areas you need, or if batteries and bulbs need to be replaced.
Hot Tubs & Water Features
If you have a hot tub or pool, you could decide this is the best time to drain and clean it. However, if you are using your hot tub through the winter, make sure the water circulates, so the pipes don’t freeze. Just be sure to drain it and leave it empty while you fly south for the winter. Also, don’t forget to add antifreeze to pipes and jets to keep them from cracking.
If you have fountains or water features, pull the pumps for the winter. You may want to drain the pond and fountain and give it a good clean. If the pond contains fish and water plants, consult an expert to see if those fish and plants should be moved inside.
Irrigation piping should be blown out at the end of each season when you turn your exterior water off. A good landscape company can arrange to make a yearly stop with the air compressor equipment. They will ensure the water is blasted out of those lines before winter temperatures can crack the pipes. Finding those cracked underground pipes in the spring is a problematic affair, so better to be safe than sorry.
Outdoor Kitchen Appliances
Check gas fireplaces and barbeques for cracked pipes and seals. Clean, repair, and restock the briquettes or tiles in the barbeque as part of your fall routine. Albertans are a hardy lot and continue to barbeque in the coldest weather. Make sure the path to the grill is clear of patio furniture and can be safely accessed in winter weather.
Are you planning a landscaping project in the future? Give us a call. Curb Design Inc. specializes in outdoor kitchens, artificial turf installation, and much more.