Winter on the horizon

Yard preparation for the coming seasons


Journal-World Illustration

As fall-like temperatures start to settle in, it’s time to prepare your landscape for a long winter’s nap.

According to Ryan Domnick of Low Maintenance Landscaping of Lawrence, there are simple tasks you can perform over the next several weeks that will beautify your yard for the cold months and make your job that much easier next spring.

This handy guide will tell you what to do, and when, to winterize your property.

1) Grass and leaves

Continue mowing until the first frost, as needed. Maintain grass height at 3 to 4 inches, if in shade. Rake and remove leaves to keep them from smothering your lawn. Fall is also the time to re-seed, if necessary.

2) Perennials

Domnick says all perennials should be cut back before spring growth resumes, but timing will vary from plant to plant. Cut plants like black-eyed Susans, daylillies or peonies, leaving a 1-inch stem. Leave grasses, goldenrod, sedum and yucca uncut for winter interest. Remove leaves from beds so they don’t attract unwanted insects.

3) Bulbs

Dig up summer flowering bulbs and store in garage or basement, especially before a killing frost (when temperatures remain under 32 degrees overnight). Divide spring blooms bulbs.

4) Annuals

After a hard freeze, Domnick suggests pulling dead annuals and most vegetable plants so they won’t rot. You can compost all but tomato plants, which tend to have diseases, for a potent fertilizer next spring.

5) Herbs

Annual herbs, such as basil, should be removed after the first frost. Perennials can be left uncut and trimmed back in the spring.

6) Shrubs

Domnick says the general rule is to cut back shrubs after flowering. Forsythia, for example, should be pruned in the spring. Leave them and cut back only late summer- and fall-blooming shrubs. Prune diseased shrubs and dead boughs from evergreens.

7) Mulch

Some plants such as crepe myrtle and clump-forming bamboo, benefit from a 1- to 3-inch layer of mulch in the fall to protect them from the winter cold. Otherwise, save the mulching for after your spring clean-up.

8) House


Move inside before frost or hard freeze, depending on the plant. Place geraniums or ferns by a window, if you don’t want to pitch them. Rinse clay pots and store upside down to drain and prevent cracking.

9) Irrigation

Before the first hard freeze, don’t forget to drain your garden hoses and irrigation systems by blowing out the water. Disconnect water and air systems leading to pipes. Store hoses in garage or garden shed.


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