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Five Steps To Winterizing Your Lawn And Garden

As the weather turns cool and winter looms on the horizon, it's time to prepare your lawn and garden so they will return healthy and beautiful in the spring. You've raked all the leaves, but before you settle down by the fire and relax, here are five additional tasks you need to accomplish to make sure your lawn and garden will re-emerge in the spring, healthy and beautiful.

1. Winterize your lawn. Pull any weeds that may come back and pollinate in the spring. Use a stiff rake to pull out the dead grass and mow the lawn one last time with a slightly higher cutting height. Then fertilize it with a winter fertilizer that provides a slow-release balance formula of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Use a weed-control formula if desired. Check the label to make sure it is intended for the type of grass you have. If you have doubts, check with your local garden store for recommendations.

2. Winterize your lawnmower and any other lawn and garden equipment. Drain the gasoline from all power equipment such as weed whackers, tillers, and garden tractors to prevent hard starting in the spring. Also drain and replace the oil, and thoroughly clean the equipment before storage. Clean or replace the air filter, and install a new spark plug. Clean all non-power tools (shovels, rakes, etc.) and put a light coat of oil on them to prevent rust.

3. Shut off your sprinkler system and drain it to prevent damage from freezing. Follow the directions that came with your system and observe the proper sequence for shutting off the water and opening drain valves. Also disconnect hoses from the hose bibs and drain them to prevent freezing.

4. Mulch around shrubs, trees, roses, and bulbs. This will help insulate the plants, preventing heating/cooling cycles that can damage root systems. The best mulch is loose organic matter such as straw, dried leaves, or pruned evergreen branches, piled to a depth of six to eight inches.

5. Do your fall planting. Fall is the best time to plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and perennials like peonies. Plant bulbs to a depth that is three times the diameter of the bulb.

Once you have taken care of these tasks, you can retire to your cozy den, put your feet up, and look out the window at the change of season with a feeling of accomplishment.