Hard to believe we are looking at frost tonight when we had 90 degrees just 2 days ago! Most of us don’t like the thought of winter at this time of year. We all know what we need to do but many of us just put it off. If you aren’t from this part of the country, there are a few things you need to know and should do to prepare for the upcoming winter. The kids are back in school so you have some time to get “winterized”.
Real snow is still a ways away, but we need to be ready for frost at any time now and in those rare years we can get a dusting of the white stuff in October, with the exception of the 1991 Halloween blizzard that dumped about 2 ½ ft of snow on unsuspecting Minnesotans. The general rule is that the snow will start to stick around at about Thanksgiving time and will last until sometime in March. Last winter we had our first storm November 11 and it just never stopped after that so you don’t really know exactly when winter will arrive.
The weather is nice, warm and sunny so who is thinking about snow? You should be. This is the ideal time to get that snow blower out from under all your gardening supplies and see if it will start up – does it need a tune up, oil or anything of the sort? If it is not ready to clear your driveway tomorrow you best take it in for service. The shops have the time now to get your snow blower back up to par and it will be all ready for you way before you actually need it. Don’t have a snow blower? How about snow shovels or scrapers for your car? This is also the time to go out and get these winter essentials. While the springtime may offer the better bargains, you can’t wait for them at this point unless you are going to shovel with your gardening tools all winter. Stores will be starting to stock these items now and you will have your pick of all the latest and best. Prepare now and when the first flakes come down you will be ready.
The other areas needing attention will be your lawn and gardens. Remember you won’t see your grass and some of your landscaping for 3-4 months so it needs to be prepared for winter. Now is an ideal time to aerate your lawn, fertilize and overseed. Some prefer aerating in the spring, both times have positives and negatives. If you do it in the fall along with fertilizing and seeding your lawn will have a big head start in the spring. When mowing this time of the year make sure not to cut the grass too short, it holds the moisture better when it is a bit longer and it will help it perk up quicker in the spring. Make sure to schedule a sprinkler blowout by mid-October if you have an irrigation system – the last thing you need is for that to freeze and rupture – not only a major mess, but an expensive mess.
The fall is also an ideal time to fertilize your trees before the leaves start falling and also give the newer trees and plants a healthy dose of water before the ground starts to freeze so they can store up energy for the spring. Some of your shrubs may need trimming in the fall – check online or with your garden store to find out the best time to prune your particular types of trees and shrubs.
Another chore on the list would be raking the lawn. If you have kids or dogs they will love to help and jump in the piles of leaves you rake up. Bag up the leaves and get them to the curb for your trash hauler to pick up. There is nothing much worse than having a lawn covered in limp soaked leaves when the snow melts. Get them raked up in the fall before it snows.
Don’t forget to remove your screens – you can wash them in the fall when you take them down or in the spring before you put them on the windows again. You will be amazed how much brighter your home is with the screens off.
You have plenty of time so start working the list a little at a time and you will be ready when the first snow arrives.