By: Christy Erickson

Summer is over, and pumpkin season is upon us. As easy as it is to consider hunkering down inside as the days grow shorter and the air grows cooler, there’s still plenty of end-of-summer home maintenance to be done. The truth is, being proactive with your garden now can save you time and energy come spring.

Let’s look at some tips to help prepare your home’s landscape for winter.

Tips for your vegetable garden

Round up weeds and other debris. Remove any leftover organic matter from your summer crops. Additionally, remove any weeds from your garden; doing so now will save a lot of work next season if they are left to go to seed.

Test your soil. Purchase a home kit and test your soil. The proper pH levels will ensure your vegetables and plants have optimal growing conditions. Use lime to make soil less acidic and sulfur to reduce its alkaline levels. Taking the time to perfect your soil ensures your next growing season will be fruitful.

Add compost. Start now by collecting your leaves through your mulching mower. Use these shredded leaves to add to the soil of your garden bed. Leaves can also be used for mulch to protect your beds during the colder temperatures of winter. If you don’t have enough, consider asking a neighbor to donate theirs.

Plant a cover crop. Planting a cover crop of buckwheat or rye prevents weeds and erosion. The cover crop also adds valuable nutrients back into the soil for better growing next season.

Tips for hardscape maintenance

A very important part of fall maintenance is the maintenance of your property’s hardscape. Hardscape refers to inanimate objects in your landscape, such as walkways, retaining walls, rocks, paver patios, outdoor kitchens, water features, decks, and driveways.

Structural repairs. Look for any structural damage in your deck that may need repairs, such as cracked boards, loose nails and insecure handrails. Other handrails around your property’s sidewalk or porch should also be checked. Fix any retaining walls that may be leaning.

Replace or repair cracked stones. Check retaining walls and stone walkways for any cracks. Cracks can be repaired or replaced depending on where they are located.

Add sand to paver patio joints. If weeds and moss are creeping in between your paver joints, it’s time for new sand. Contact your local stone supply company for new sand, which can give your patio or sidewalk a whole new look.

Cleaning. Decks, driveways, sidewalks, and patios could all use a good power wash before sealing.

Sealing. After cleaning decks, driveways and other hard landscape, take the time to apply an appropriate sealer. Sealer provides concrete and wood with valuable protection to prevent cracking and deterioration.

Tips for your trees and shrubs

Water. Trees and shrubs can get thirsty over the winter months, give them a good drink before temperatures drop to freezing.

Inspect your trees and shrubs. Once the leaves drop, it’s the prime time to inspect for any broken limbs or crossed limbs that need to be removed.

Wind damage. If you have trees, especially any conifers like pine or spruce, that take a beating from wind you’ll want to give them some winter protection. Consider using burlap between stakes to create a barrier to protect them through the colder months.

Fertilize. Be sure to give your trees and shrubs an end of summer winter feeding. Use appropriate fertilizer for your specific plant types. For example, evergreens take a more acidic fertilizer.

Prevent snow and ice damage. If you notice each winter that an area of your landscape is taking a beating from ice or snow, such as snow falling from your roof, or high snow drifting spots that cover bushes, install some sort of protection now to avoid plant loss.

Working on your garden now will not only give you a cleaned up and fresh fall look, but it could save you more hassle come spring. You won’t be digging out a dead bush or shrub down the road, your driveway won’t develop an even bigger crack, Grandma won’t fall when she grabs the handrail at Christmas, and your vegetable garden will be ready for an excellent spring planting.

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