While your backyard takes a winter break from growing and blooming, you also get to enjoy a brief vacation from yard-care duties. However, to prepare a yard for harsh winter conditions and the upcoming spring boom, there are just a few maintenance checks to perform.

Lawn Care

Before your grass falls dormant for the winter, clear off any remaining leaves or thatch (dead grass). Lingering lawn debris can encourage pests, fungal growth, and bacteria, which should all be avoided during critical winter temperatures. For the final grass cuttings of the fall, gradually lower your mower blade. Avoid placing your mower blade at the lowest setting and scalping the lawn, which will overexpose the grass to harsh weather conditions.

Some homeowners with warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, choose to overseed in the early fall with a cool-season grass to thicken up bare areas and maintain a green lawn during the winter. If you have overseeded, you may need to continue mowing in the late fall and into the winter.

Tree Pruning

Trees will benefit from being pruned in the late winter before new spring growth appears. According to Trees Atlanta, no more than 25 percent of a tree’s canopy should be removed at once, so plan which branches to prune ahead of time. Remove damaged, decaying, or dead branches first. After these have been cleared, look for crowded or rubbing branches as well as branches with poor growth angles. Limbs that obstruct traffic and street signs or present other hazards may also be removed. Poor pruning can severely damage or even kill a tree, so always call in a professional if you are unsure of proper pruning techniques.


Trees. Lay mulch to insulate the tree’s root system and preserve water. Be careful not to overmulch. For sites with good drainage, two to four inches is appropriate, but if your tree’s home doesn’t drain water well, thin out the mulch to prevent root rot. Also, avoid piling mulch up against the trunk, which will suffocate the tree. For more tree mulching tips, click here.

Plants and shrubs. Trees aren’t the only things that will benefit from mulching during the winter months. Placing mulch around your plant beds and shrubs will help retain moisture and maintain a uniform root temperature. As spring approaches and the danger of a hard freeze has passed, gradually thin out the mulch to allow sun and warmth to penetrate to the soil and new growth to emerge.

Taking these preventative measures in the winter can have a big payoff in the spring. Your yard will be ready to shake off winter weather, and you’ll avoid having to do additional time-consuming and possibly costly maintenance to remedy any winter damage.

Click Here to View Your Local Best Pick® Landscaping Contractors

Sources: EBSCOhost Home Improvement Reference Center: Landscaping & Lawn Care; Professional Landcare Network (PLANET); Trees Atlanta; University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources.

For more information on our sources, please contact us directly.