Preparing your lawn and landscape for winter

Now that fall has arrived and your lawn growth has slowed, it’s time to turn your attention to winterizing your property. Here is a checklist of things that need to be done before winter arrives:

-Prepare for your last leaf cleanups:
-Clean any remaining leaves from the roof
-Clean the leaves out of your gutters
-Get all the remaining leaves out of your landscaping

-Make sure you lower your mowing height for the final mowing of the season.

-Winterize your underground sprinkler system. (We can refer a contractor if needed.)

-Take in your garden hoses, rain gauge, portable basketball hoops with water in the base, and anything that could gather water and freeze.

-Take in or cover your patio furniture and gas grill.

-Check your garage for anything that you may need over the winter or that could freeze.

-Clean your lawn mower, sharpen the blade, and add a fuel stabilizer for winter.

-Find your snow blower and make sure it starts. If it needs attention, be proactive-do it now before the repair shops are overwhelmed!

Moles vs Voles

Many people often mistake voles for moles. Moles make underground tunnels while voles make above-ground runaways. Moles eat earthworms, grubs, and insects whereas voles gnaw at the base of trees and shrubs and eat plants, especially grass and flower bulbs.

During the winter, voles will tunnel under the snow and create winding trails about 2 inches wide, as they feed on grass. In most cases, raking up the loose grass will take care of the problem. The damage is mainly cosmetic and the turf will recover on its own in time.

If you have a large vole problem, using mouse control baits will help control voles. It is a good idea to use these products in a weatherproof bait station. These bait stations help to protect non-target pests and keep the mouse control products from getting wet. Mouse snap traps can also be effective when placed perpendicular to the runways with a peanut butter-oatmeal mixture or apple slices as bait.

Mulching Leaves

The days of raking and bagging leaves should be over for almost everyone. Studies have shown that homeowners have successfully mulched more than 6 inches of leaves back into their lawn. Mulching leaves will chop them into very small pieces; often into dust. From a distance or after substantial rain, you’ll never know your leaves were mulched. Mulched leaves, like grass clippings, are high in nutrients and organic matter and are good to return to the soil. There are a few keys to making mulching work;

First, make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp. Without a sharp blade, mulching leaves will be a difficult process.

Second, If you have a thick layer of leaves, move your mowing height up to keep your mower from working too hard.

Third, try to mulch your leaves when they are dry. Wet leaves tend to turn into a paste rather than dust.

Following these tips will save you hours of work this fall.

Click here to read what Rebecca Finneran from MSU has to say about mulching leaves.