As the leaves begin to fall and fill Ontario landscapes with stunning hues of red, orange and gold, the Autumn season brings a unique opportunity to transform your outdoor area into a welcoming space for gatherings with friends and family. In this blog, we will explore 8 ways to prepare your Ontario yard for winter to elevate and protect your lawn and garden until the Spring.
Clean Up and Prepare
Although summer is gone, there is still much to do with the lawn and garden before the snowfall. It is important to remove fallen leaves, dead plants and any debris that may have accumulated to prevent disease and pests from overwintering. If leaves are left on the grass, the limited sunlight we see during the winter will cause the grass to die from lack of sun exposure.
Declutter for a Healthy Garden
As autumn sheds its colorful foliage, ensure a clutter-free garden by disposing of any debris. Remove dead plants, fallen branches, and other clutter that may have accumulated. This not only contributes to a neat appearance but, more importantly, it helps prevent diseases from overwintering. Pests often find refuge in debris, making a thorough cleanup an effective preventative measure for a healthier garden come spring.
Fall Leaf Removal
When preparing your outdoor space for winter, one crucial task is clearing fallen leaves. Don’t underestimate the power of a good old rake. Raking leaves not only keeps your lawn looking tidy but also prevents potential issues. If left unattended, fallen leaves can create a breeding ground for pests and diseases. Additionally, they block sunlight, hindering your grass from receiving the necessary light even during the limited winter sun.
Clean your Gutters
The autumn leaves create picturesque scenery which is perfect when exploring Dundas Valley, Mount Nemo Conservation Area, or the Bronte Creek Provincial Park just outside of Oakville. The leaves also tend to accumulate in your gutters. Before the winter weather brings ice and snow, it is important to clean out your eavestroughs and gutters. Keeping your gutters clean is an important part of preparing your property for winter, and when the spring comes around you will be glad you did.
Pruning and Trimming
The time has come, pull out all the tired and overgrown summer annuals. Removing dead or overgrown branches will not only improve the overall appearance of your landscape but also prompt healthier growth in the spring. Our team takes time to research specific pruning requirements for each plant in your garden to avoid damaging them. Weeding is essential in the fall, unattended autumn weeds can harbor disease and lay roots for future weed problems.
Lawn Care before Winter
Mowing the Lawn
Maintain your lawn at the optimal height as fall approaches. Consider adjusting the mowing height slightly upward, fostering deeper roots as the length of the leaves correlates with root depth. Longer grass blades offer insulation for the grass plant’s crown, safeguarding its growing point. Be mindful not to let the grass grow excessively long in preparation for winter, as this may lead to matting, creating an environment conducive to winter diseases like pink and grey snow mould. Strike a balance to ensure your lawn is winter-ready and resilient.
Fertilize before first freeze
Fertilizing your lawn in late fall, just before it goes dormant, is key for a healthy winter and vibrant spring. Opt for a balanced, slow-release fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium, crucial for root development and overall resilience. This timing allows the grass to absorb and store nutrients during its last active growth phase before winter. Aim for application around October or early November to ensure your lawn enters winter well-nourished, ready to endure the colder months, and primed for a robust comeback in the spring.
Insulate with Mulch
Once all the plants have died back and the garden is cleaned out adding a good layer of mulch down is very beneficial. Particularly for those who live in a Northern climate where the ground freezes during the winter, mulch can help insulate the ground and provide some protection for perennial plants. Even fruit trees, shrubs and evergreen trees.
Seasonal Plants and Flowers
All season interest is important yet underrated. Planting Fall blooming flowers like chrysanthemums, sedums and asters bring a burst of colour in the garden. Add texture and unique shapes with ornamental grasses, kale and cabbage. These plants thrive in cooler temperatures and can withstand light frost, making them perfect for autumn. Garlic, tulips, daffodils and crocus bulbs are planted in the fall to enjoy in the spring. These bulbs need a period of cold dormancy to bloom.
Burlapping Shrubs and Trees
Burlap is used to wrap up trees and shrubs because it has holes in the fabric for aeration, these plants need air flow to breathe. Otherwise they would sweat and become overheated with a material such as a garbage bag or fabric cloth. The best time to wrap shrubs/trees is around the
end of November into December. Burlap protects the plant from heavy snow fall and cold winds. If you live near a highway or close to the roads, burlap can help protect against salt damage.
Applying tree guards to newly planted trees will help protect the trunk and ensure their survival until the spring. When there’s a cycle of freezing and thawing happening, the bark is prone to split. Leading the tree to become compromised and susceptible to disease and pest. They also prevent critters such as mice and rabbits from munching on their barking, giving the infant trees a chance to become established.
Draining Water Features and Shutting off Valves
As winter approaches, specific attention to draining water features and shutting off valves is paramount in safeguarding your outdoor space. Properly shutting down water features might involve more than just turning off the main valve. Some outdoor water elements require a thorough draining process to eliminate any lingering moisture. Whether it’s a waterfall, fountain, pond, or other water fixture, ensuring these elements are emptied and valves are securely turned off prevents freezing and potential damage. Professional assistance is recommended, especially when dealing with complex water features, to guarantee a seamless shutdown that protects your landscape from winter’s harsh conditions.
As we bid farewell to the vibrant colors of autumn and brace for the winter chill, preparing your outdoor space becomes a crucial investment in its future vitality. The diligent efforts in cleaning, pruning, mulching, and protective measures lay the foundation for a resilient and flourishing landscape come spring. Remember, winter isn’t a hiatus but a preparation phase for the reawakening of your garden. Embrace these seasonal tasks, and you’ll not only safeguard your outdoor haven but also set the stage for a stunning revival when the first buds of spring emerge. Let your outdoor space hibernate gracefully, knowing you’ve properly prepared your Ontario yard for winter.