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How to Winterize Your Backyard

How to Winterize your backyardHow to Winterize Your Backyard: Preservation and Maintenance

The end of summer marks the beginning of a trying time for homeowners – winterizing their backyards. Every single element that you have in your backyard needs to be winterized in order to save it from becoming ruined – right from your lawn furniture and grills to your swimming pools and garden accessories.

When you properly winterize your backyard, it can save you a lot of time and energy when summer comes around again. Here are some ways to preserve and maintain your backyard during the winter season.

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Grills & Barbeques

If you have portable barbeques and grills installed in your backyard, you will want to move them inside a garage, storage shed, or a plastic storage unit, which is available at most hardware stores. Make sure you keep propane tanks outdoors itself, and cover it with a tarpaulin or a plastic bag. Never store propane tanks indoors, since this could instigate an explosion which you certainly do not want.

Garden Tools

To winterize your garden tools such as spades, shears, and other hand tools, dip them in sand mixed with motor oil before you store them. This will not only clean them, but will also work by lubricating them.

Hoses

Leaving hoses outdoors during the winter is a clear and very real mistake. You may think that you will be able to drain the hose in question and leave it outside, and it won’t be a problem, but even drained hoses tend to suffer from exposure when left out in the open for cold long stretches of time. This means that the life of your garden hoses are compromised and you will end up needing to replace them sooner than if you took some time out to properly winterize them. Unhook all your hoses from spigots, empty out all the water and store them in a shed or a garage after you have winterized them.

Lawn Mowers

For lawn mowers, try tuning them at the end of summer. This way, you will avoid the rush of lawn mower owners who have procrastinated and arrive at tune-up shops to get their machines tuned just before springtime. To preserve your lawnmower in the winter, you should also think about adding a gasoline stabilizer to the remaining fuel.

Potted Plants

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do for potted plants in the winter, but to get rid of them. At the end of summer, pull up all your potted annuals and throw the soil out. Be sure to store your pots in a basement, shed, or garage. If you leave plastic pots out in the extreme cold, they will suffer unnecessary damage from the exposure, while terracotta pots tend to freeze outdoors.

Lawn Furniture

If you have lightweight plastic lawn furniture, you can easily store them in your garage. If you have heavier pieces however, like wrought iron, they can be left outdoors. But be sure to cover them with the manufacturers’ covers (which you can buy online or at a hardware store) or large plastic bags. The manufacturers’ covers are made from durable vinyl and have grommets or drawstrings for cords so as to keep it secured against the wind.

If any of your lawn furniture has fabric cushions, remember to store them in your shed, since they cannot be left outside. If you feel like it, you may also clean your furniture before you store them in your shed so those dirt stains do not become permanent and so when you bring them back out in another four to five months they are ready to go for you to sit on and put out on display. You also, by cleaning them, will kill any spiders or bugs that could have made the underside of the furniture their summer home.

Swimming Pools

Winterizing your swimming pool protects it from damage due to the water freezing and also keeps it clean for the next swimming season. To winterize your swimming pool, be sure that the water chemistry is balanced and is between 7.2 and 7.6 pH, the alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and the calcium hardness between 180 and 220 ppm.

Store your wall fittings, pool cleaners, solar blankets, skimmer baskets, and ladders in your shed. Use a filter pump or a submersible pump to lower the water level of the pool and be sure to drain out all of the filters, pumps, chlorinators and heaters, so to prevent them from freezing and cracking. Finally, make sure that the chlorine level is below 3.0 ppm, and cover your pool so that there are no holes or gaps where debris or leaves may enter.

Garden Ponds

Winterizing a garden pond can be challenging, especially if you have plants and the fish in the pond. The first thing you need to do is turn off the pump and take away all the parts that stick out above the water surface. Remove your potted plants and cut the foliage up till the root ball. To keep the fish alive, keep a hole open in the ice during the winter to allow the toxic gases to escape and oxygen to enter the pond.

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About the Author

Greg Bailey is a partner at Outdoor Living Manufacturing Ltd, a value added forest company specializing in do-it-yourself western red cedar kits. He has been in the forest industry for over 30 years and an owner at OLM for over 10 years.

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