Ecology + Design

Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

To insure that we get the most out of our landscape environment in terms of enjoyment and preserving our continued investment in our properties appearance and value, I suggest making a list of tasks you can perform which prepare your landscape for winter.

1) Water

If you have new plantings, you may have to continue to water until the ground freezes. The most common cause of landscape planting failure in the fall is lack of hydration causing roots to freeze dry. The damage is usually not noticed until spring.

Make sure your irrigation system is drained, usually by blowing out the lines with compressed air. Best done by a professional service. If you do not follow best practices and procedures, for instance apply too much pressure to a zone, you can damage the system.

Turn off all exterior hose bibs (faucets) from the inside. Don’t forget to open the outside valve to drain ! This avoids frozen pipes and costly repairs.

Evaluate drainage, especially pooling and ares of standing water on hardscape surfaces that potentially cause slip and fall issues.

2) Gutter and Leader cleaning

Be sure you clean the roof, gutters and leaders of leaves, debris etc.. This includes checking even if you have gutter guards or screens. Even asphalt shingles degrade over time. Use a hose to flush gutters and leaders with water to insure they and the drains they empty into are functioning.

Use ball screens to keep leaves out of leaders.

3) Storm Drains and Catch Basins

Made sure all drainage services are functioning. Either check in the rain or flush with a hose. Clean exposed grates etc.

4) Air Conditioning Units (condensers)

You can save money and extend the life of your air conditioner by maintaining/cleaning the condenser. To do that first unplug or turn off power, then unscrew top cover, brush fan blades, vacuum out box, use a compressor to blow out coils, power wash if necessary. We also like to spray a product called Shock Wave to eliminate corrosion/rust and mold. You need to wash it off after applying because it is hydrogen peroxide based. Last, reattach cover and cover the top of the unit with plywood and a stone (to keep it from blowing off). This will eliminate debris from getting in. This insures optimum efficiency, sustainability and longevity.

5) Window Wells

Inspect and make sure you cover all window wells with a plastic cover to keep snow and ice from freezing, expanding and cracking concrete infrastructure etc.

6) Garden Maintenance

Shred leaves for mulch if desired for beds. Cleanup spent perennials after frost, remove dead annuals. Lightly prune shrubs. Feed with organic fertilizer for all small trees and shrubs (use acid loving where appropriate, ex. Hollytone for azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangea, blueberries, hollies etc.) to increase root development.

Don’t starve your plants if you love them!

Use an antidessdicant to protect evergreens from winter burn. We like the product Moisture Loc ( One of the advantages, beside the cost savings (application rate 10-1), is you can spray/treat all evergreens including arborvitae and blue spruce. Nurseries and growers use this as a BMP (Best Management Practice).

7) Deer Repellant

Don’t forget to protect your plants from winter deer browse!

Even if you don’t usually see damage, it’s a long winter with snow in the forecast. If you don’t fence in your plants you should spray them on a warm day. We like the Deer Free Winter Armor product (

This will help repel deer while also reducing winter burn.

8) Tree Maintenance and Forestry Management

Late fall and winter is an ideal time to prune and shape your ornamental trees and shrubs. Anytime is a good time to remove dead wood, especially hangers and loose branches overhanging driveways, walkways etc. When the leaves are off the trees is the ideal time to remove invasives and selectively thin less desirable species to improve health and competition.

Creating wood chip paths, walks and general land clearing can be undertaken.

9) Landscape Design Development Plans

Big or small, whatever your plans or desires for your landscape, it’s never to soon to plan for your future enjoyment of your home and landscape. Make a wish list. Talk to a design professional. Make a plan, a budget and a schedule.

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