Preparing Your Yard For Winter

September 27, 2012

Fall may have just began here in Portland, but now’s the time to start preparing your yard for winter! The winter weather in the Pacific Northwest isn’t terrible, but it can still wreak havoc on an unprepared yard or garden. To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of five important pre-winter yard preparations you should make before the cold, rainy weather finally hits. Enjoy!


Winterize Your Deck

This is especially important for Portland homeowners with hardwood decking. Rain, wind, and yard debris can rot and warp your deck over the course of the winter. The best way to prevent this is to give your deck a thorough cleaning and give it some sort of protection from the elements. This protection can come in a variety of forms, from a new layer of sealant to a plastic deck cover.


Clean Water Features

Leaves and other yard debris can build up and decay in ponds and fountains, leaving homeowners with a messy spring clean-up project. The build up of decaying matter can also raise ammonia levels, which can be harmful to fish (if your feature has any). Clean your features in late September or early October and cover them with a waterproof tarp. Because Portland has such rainy winters, it’s also a good idea to drain your ponds 25% - 50% so they don’t overflow and cause water damage around your yard.


Feed Your Lawn

Many people continue to water their lawns well into fall, but fertilizing before winter is actually just as important. During this time of year it is a good idea to use fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus. Also, remember to keep your lawn cut – shorter grass discourages ice and snow from forming.


Clean Out Perennials

Most perennial flowers experience a lot of dieback, which can trap moisture in the soil in spring and cause other flower’s roots to rot. Keeping perennials cut back will prevent this as well as make your beds look cleaner and more attractive.



Mulching around trees is important, but don’t just pile the mulch up around the trunk like a volcano. Form a donut-like circle out of the mulch, making sure to keep from directly touching the trunk. This will provide all the benefits of mulch – warmth, protection from the elements, etc. – without attracting burrowing rodents.


What do you think are the most important winter-preparations you can take for your yard? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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