Just because snow is coming does not mean that you should abandon your yard until the thaw of spring. If the snow has not yet come, here is what you should do to prepare your yard before it is frozen.
1. The Lawn
You should continue to mow until the ground has frozen. When it gets chilly, some warm weather grasses will go dormant, but grasses like bluegrass and fescue, which are cool season grasses, will continue to grow until the ground freezes. You want to keep it trimmed because this will reduce the chances of fungus growth, which will later harm your lawn. A side benefit is that this will also shred leaves and other yard debris, which will help fertilize the yard. If you plan on using the leaves as fertilizer, make sure you keep up on mowing them to shreds, or you may have to rake some of the leaves up and dispose of them.
2. Perennial Care
These plants will continue to grow year after year, and you can strengthen them by taking proper care of them. First, trimming does need to happen, but this can happen in the fall or the spring. Typically, any perennials that grew and bloomed earlier in the year can be trimmed in the fall, and the fall bloomers would be better trimmed in the spring; this way, they can complete the growth and store up as much energy to last through the winter. This also applies to woody perennials, you want to trim some of the dead branches in the fall, and some of the plants do better with trimming in the spring. You also want to look at weed removal at this time. As the fall perennials are storing up energy, so are the weeds. You can pull these pesky plants out to prevent them from growing back in the spring, or you can spray them with weed killer, and clean out in the spring.
While not perennials, also make sure you clean out your vegetable garden. This will be easier in the fall, and you also want to give the soil time to get ready for new plants in the spring. If you compost, all these trimmings can be added to the pile and this will be a good time for the pile to sit and break down.
While this does not need to be done every year, aeration typically needs to be done every couple of years. This is to break up some of the older roots and all the old clippings that may not have been cleared away so that water can get into the soil and not flood on top. This also allows new growth to thrive. For more information on why aeration is important, check out some of our previous blogs on the subject.
There are several types of fertilizer available, and they all serve a different purpose. There are fertilizers for spring that give more nutrients to support growth, and there are fall fertilizers that have different nutrients to strengthen the roots. The fall fertilizers will help your lawn survive winter, and not only will it survive, but it will be ready to thrive when spring comes along.