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10 things you must do to your yard before winter hits

Tackle these fall chores to prevent winter damage

Man cleaning up leaves in fall Credit: Getty Images / jamievanbuskirk

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If you live in a part of the country where the autumn air turns crisp and the leaves turn red and gold, you probably know that you can’t relax with a pumpkin spice latte until you get your yard ready for winter.

There’s plenty you can do, even if you’re not much of a DIYer. I’m certainly not, yet somehow, these chores get done every autumn. (Though often by somebody else!) Here's my list of the 10 fall projects that will give you the most bang for the buck.

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1. Clean the gutters.

Cleaning-gutters
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There are dead leaves clogging your gutters right now! If you’re not the ladder-climbing type, pay someone to clear them out. Gutters that are filled with leaves can lead to water damage, because rain and melting snow can't get out. Think about buying this smart leak detector, because redoing a ceiling is no fun.

2. Get the leaves off the grass.

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Dead leaves can smother a lawn, and pathogens can grow in them. Rake or blow the leaves into a pile, then shovel them into your compost bin or stuff them in a heavy duty paper bag. If your community collects yard waste, put the bag out for pickup.

3. Winterize your lawn.

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Aerate the lawn to open up the soil, letting air, water and nutrients get to the roots. Spread grass seed, and fertilize once more for early greening.

4. Enjoy the last of the harvest.

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Pick those last few green tomatoes and put them in a brown paper bag to ripen.

5. Plant bulbs that bloom in spring.

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Tulips, daffodils, and crocuses poke their noses up through the snow, providing some much needed color in the new year.

6. Mulch the garden.

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Protect perennials after the first hard frost. Shredded leaves, pine needles, and bark mulch provide insulation. If you haven’t gotten around to it, and it's after Christmas, cut boughs off your tree and use them as mulch.

7. Lop off dead branches.

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You don't want dead branches ending up on your roof in a storm, so cut them off now. But wait until the middle of winter to prune your shrubs, to ensure they've gone dormant before you cut them back.

8. Take care of your evergreens.

Arborvitae-in-snow
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Heavy ice and snow are tough on arborvitae and junipers, weighing down their branches. Think about wrapping your trees in burlap for protection.

9. Shut off outdoor water faucets, drain the hose and bring it inside.

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You definitely don't want the pipe to freeze. The shutoff valve is probably in your basement or garage. And if you have a sprinkler system, you may need to hire a pro to prepare it for winter.

10. Put away your outdoor furniture.

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Fold up your patio furniture and store it in the basement or garage. And clean out your flower pots and containers before bringing them in.

Chill out
Once you’re done out in the yard, you’ll be ready to go inside and get warm. Get yourself a PSL and put your feet up!

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