Most years, Claude and I are fairly proactive with our yard cleanup, but the weather has been so nice this year, we put yard work on the back burner. Yesterday was sunny and reasonably warm, and we felt secure in our decision to delay. Surprise!!! This morning it decided to snow! Time to get serious and start our cleanup.
1) Don’t Wait Too Long! - Yes, it is Alberta and the weather will warm up. Although there is still time to get the yard ready, some tasks, like cutting back daylilies, are made more difficult with wet leaves. If you have a garbage pick-up that includes an organic cart for grass clippings and leaves, you may want to fill this bin over a period of several weeks.
2) Clean Out Gutters - Yes, we know this is one of the most distasteful jobs, but allowing gutters to fill with leaves, gunk, and debris can have serious monetary ramifications. As realtors, we have seen first hand what the runoff from clogged gutters can do; damaging your roof & siding, diverting water to your foundation causing water damage and mold, and creating impromptu skating rinks on sidewalks. If climbing a ladder and clearing out gunk is not your forte, there are a number of local companies who provide this service.
3) Cut Back Perennials & Divide Plants - After a while, most perennials need to be thinned. The rule for dividing perennials is to give them 4 weeks to recover before there is a hard frost, so your fall cleanup is the perfect time to shift or give away plants. You will also want to take the time to cut back your plants. Old leaves will mildew if left under the snow and planting in the spring is much nicer without clearing out old, moldy debris.
4) Don't Prune Bushes & Trees - If at all possible, DO NOT prune bushes and trees in the fall. Pruning plants signal them to grow; not what you want just before the snow flies. Fruit trees can be pruned in winter when the sap is not running.
5) Collect All The Leaves - Blow all your leaves out of beds and from under bushes. Again, these mildewy piles are not good for your grass and can decompose, causing weeds to grow in landscaping wood chips and rocks.
6) Rake & Do Your Final Mow - Have you ever seen tracks of matted grass running across your lawn after the snow melts? These are the tunnels voles make under the snow in Alberta. Voles are small relatives of mice and can wreak havoc on your lawn. If you lower the blades on your mower and do a nice, close final cut to your lawn, it can discourage these tiny pests from using your yard as their winter playground.
7) Clean Your Tools and Store Them Away - Take a few moments to clean off the blades on your shovels and lawnmower. This prevents rust, corrosion and keeps your tools sharp.
8) Store Deck Furniture, Outdoor Lights, and Yard Ornaments - All of the decorations you have in your yard took both time and money to collect. Keep them in peak condition by packing up cushions, removing batteries, and protecting ornaments in sturdy tubs.
9) Drain All Water - Standing water will damage your hoses, irrigation systems, and fountains. Drain everything well, and use a compressor to blow water from drip systems. Store your hoses and fountains in a dry shed or garage.
10) Don’t Bury Your Shovel - Make sure your snow shovel, Christmas lights, and sled are not buried beneath a mountain of furniture and umbrellas. Move everything you will need this winter to the front of your shed.
11) Don't Bury Your Lawn Mower - Last year, Claude did his final mowing of the yard and piled various yard paraphernalia on top of it. How were we to know it would not snow for many weeks and the lawn would keep growing. This is Alberta. Always be prepared!