Preparing your home and lawn for winter

Home with gorgeous outdoor landscape covered with snow patches at winter dayPhoto by(Shutterstock/karamysh)

Before you get ready to enjoy snow-filled winter days and cozy fireplace nights, it’s important to prepare your home and lawn for the winter. From simple cleaning routines to long-term sowing plans, here are a few ways to try and ensure the transition between seasons is smooth and that you and your house are ready for the changes.

Prep the roof

It’s hard enough to manage the snow in front of the house, so you don’t want to complicate things with snow seeping in through cracks in the roof.

Get your roof thoroughly checked in advance and fixed if needed so you will be protected. Start the inspection during the fall months because it will be nearly impossible to make any repairs when it’s snowing.

Clean your gutters

Along with fixing cracks and replacing broken tiles, we also recommend checking and cleaning your gutters. They may be clogged with fall leaves.

You can do this yourself or hire a professional to do the job. If you’re working with a team, you can also extend the gutter downspouts to try and ensure the water is draining far away from your home's foundation.

“Winter is a great time to tackle home maintenance,” said Hubert Miles, CMI, founder, and lead editor of Home Inspection Insider. “Your winter checklist should include: clean gutters and downspouts, service your heating system, schedule chimney cleanings, cleaning gas fireplace inserts, replace smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or their batteries, trim tree limbs away from your house, and winterize your sprinkler system.”

Take your outdoor gear in

You’re likely not going to use the outdoor furniture once the snow starts, so just take it inside the house for a few months. This advice includes your lawnmower and garden tools. You can put them in storage or in the sheltered part of your yard so they won’t be damaged by snow and harsh weather.

Check the heating system
Man in work while checking heating radiator in room.Photo by(Shutterstock/Andrew Angelov)

Imagine it’s snowing outside, and you find out your heating system is broken. You can easily avoid scenarios like this by checking your heating and related systems before the temperature begins to dip. This advice applies whether you live in a pre-war apartment with old steam radiators or your own single family home with a heat pump and furnace. Call a professional during the late fall months, making repairs easier by giving you time to spare.

Clean your fireplace

Like heating, you don’t want to end up with a broken, dysfunctional fireplace when the temperatures are at their lowest. That’s why it’s crucial to get your fireplace and chimney checked and cleaned before wintertime.

There are hundreds of tutorials online describing how to do this, but you can also work with a cleaning agency if you don’t have the time to DIY it.

Buy snow-clearing equipment

If you don’t want to end up shut inside your house because your yard and driveway are full of snow and you have nothing to clear it, make sure you buy snow-clearing tools early.

Shovels, snowblowers, and roof rakes—stock up on everything you need before winter begins. If you already have these, bring them out of storage and put them in a more accessible location so you can use them easily whenever needed.

Rake the leaves off your yard
Raking up fallen leavesPhoto by(Shutterstock/maxbelchenko)

Your yard can look pretty but messy after the fall, so depending on where you live, make sure you rake the leaves away before winter. This will keep your house clean and clear your garden for the winter plants. It’ll also keep you in the good graces of your homeowner’s association (HOA) if you have one.

Invest in a good rake or a lawn mower, or maybe hire someone to do the cleaning for you if you don’t have the time.

You should also be sure to prep any water systems you have set up in your yard.

“Ensure that you disconnect and blow out irrigation system lines before the temperatures drop below freezing,” said Dave Smythe, CEO at Out Of This World Plumbing.

Plant winter crops

Plants like beets and carrots grow well in winter, but you want to plant the seeds before the snow starts. Hardy vegetables like broccoli are also a good option to boost your harvest.

We recommend planning your planting patterns in advance so you can optimize each season to get the best quality harvest.

Trim the trees

Weak branches and dying trees may not be able to handle the weight of snow, leading them to unexpectedly snap and possibly cause damage to you or your house. That’s why we recommend trimming the trees in the fall.

It’s easier to do this during warmer weather when you can see things clearly and move freely because you don’t need to be covered in multiple layers of winter clothing.

Stock up on items for daily use

It can be hard to go shopping when your driveway is covered in snow, so stock up on essentials beforehand. You don’t need to buy multiple months’ worth of groceries, but make sure you have enough wood for the fireplace, the right size thermal wear, and food with a long shelf life that can come in handy when you can’t buy ingredients for cooking.

Change the decor
Christmas decoration on the porchPhoto by(Shutterstock/Julia Zavalishina)

If you enjoy fall decorations, you likely have a house full of fall-themed items. But now it’s time to put them away and bring out the holiday season decor. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year—lots of holidays are celebrated during the colder months, so you can start getting crafty.

Wrapping up your winter prep

There’s no one-size-fits-all for winter prep because each house is different and experiences different weather changes. Pick what applies to you, leave the rest, and get ready to enjoy the icy weather.

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