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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Mistakes You Must Avoid When Winterizing Your Waterloo Region Yard

It's officially beginning to feel like winter as the temperatures are rapidly falling, but what happens when yardwork calls? It can be a big hassle for Waterloo Region homeowners to bundle up, go outside, and get their lawn and garden ready for the upcoming chilly months. And as we all know, things can get really chilly here.

However, the truth is that if you don't take care of some yard maintenance chores before the temps really drop, you can run into a whole host of issues come spring, and much of that hard work you put into your yard throughout the spring and summer may go to waste, leaving you with a real struggle to put things right when spring arrives.

Even if it's not really how you'd like to spend a day as the holiday season ramps up and things get super busy start now before the winter weather gets harsher because failing to do so will either make the amount, difficulty, or cost of work in the spring increase.

So, don your parka, get your work gloves, and make sure not to make the following mistakes when maintaining your yard and getting it ready to weather the winter ahead.

Not Raking Up All the Fallen Leaves

It can be a bit daunting to rake up all the leaves in the yard during the fall, but it's vital to remember that doing so is necessary for the health of your lawn. If your yard is covered in leaves, it will be unable to absorb sunlight, nutrients, and air.

A lawn may become diseased, cause flooding, or even attract pests as its root system struggles to receive adequate amounts of air, water, sunlight, and nutrients. Mold and fungus can grow and ruin your grass as the leaves rot. Additionally, the weight of the leaf layer may prevent any new grass from growing the following spring.

Not Wrapping Vulnerable Trees

Wrapping them for the first few winters will help prevent sunscald if you have young trees or trees on your property with thin bark. This happens when a tree becomes warm from the sun during the day and becomes damaged at night from the temperature decrease.

Aspen, poplar, and maple trees all require wrapping during their first few years. Wrap your trees using Kraft paper, starting at the base and winding the paper up to the first major branch. Or, place white plastic tree guards around the trunks. This protection will reflect the rays of the sun off the trunk, keeping it cool, protected and ready to thrive again in the spring.

Waiting Until Spring to Prune

In the Waterloo Region, most plants go dormant during the winter. This is the time of year when they’ve halted active growth and have hunkered down for the cold weather. Because of this dormancy, late winter and early spring are typically the best times to make any adjustments to the shapes of many trees and shrubs by pruning them. Why?

Pruning while a plant is dormant makes it easier for the plant to recover which is important for next year’s flowers and/or leaves.

By pruning BEFORE any new growth starts, the plant puts energy towards producing new, healthy growth when the warmer temperatures of spring roll around.

Practically speaking, it’s also a lot easier to see the true shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone.

Failing to Aerate and Fertilize Before Heavy Frosts Begin

Keep an eye on the forecast and be sure to fertilise and aerate your lawn prior to the onset of severe frosts.

In essence, fertilisation provides your yard with the nutrition and fuel it needs to survive the upcoming winter. By lessening the compaction of the soil that occurred during the previous six months, aeration helps to eliminate any wet areas you may notice and creates drainage for the upcoming wet months and gives all that melting snow a proper place to go.

Underestimating the Local Wildlife

When food is scarce in the winter, animals like deer and rabbits will consume plants they ordinarily wouldn't be interested in. this includes eating or scraping bark as well as nibbling the tops of shrubs that may already have set flower buds.

Before the ground freezes, experts advise building a physical barrier around young, delicate plants or those that are vulnerable to damage, such as fencing or high stakes with netting or burlap.

Not Winterizing Your Lawn Mower

You cut your grass frequently over the summer, but now your mower needs some end-of-season upkeep.

Maintaining your mower will help ensure that it is prepared for use the next season. But if you skip this step, you will likely experience startup problems or subpar performance when the spring weather - and young grass - returns.

Winter lawn mower maintenance should include changing the mower’s spark plug, changing the oil, replacing the air filter, and checking for broken or worn parts like the belt cover, belts, discharge chute, bag, mulch plug, and tires. And don’t forget to remove, sharpen, or replace the mower blade.

Forgetting About Those Outdoor Faucets

Most homes have at least one outside faucet or hose bib. Usually these water outlets are connected to hoses or splitters or can be part of an outdoor sink. The reason why these fixtures and their adjacent pipes are so susceptible to freezing over winter is because they are exposed to the outside and therefore, the home’s heating may not be enough. 

In the freezing sub-zero outdoor conditions, these pipes, if left with water inside over winter, are the most prone to breaking or bursting due to frozen water. This can lead to costly repairs or even pipe replacements. Therefore, locating the water shut off valve for these pipes can be a real lifesaver.



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