Preparing for Winter

November 10, 2008

winter prep

There’s a cold front expected to blow this way this week in New York. We haven’t quite finished our winter preparation, and boy we’d better finish it before it snows! As I was thinking of our list, I thought it would be nice to blog about it. Maybe my list will give you some ideas, and perhaps you have some ideas that would help me that you could leave in the comments.

1. Rake the leaves.

Why do we bother raking all those leaves?! Leaves on the grass suffocate the grass. You don’t want to kill your turf, because weeds will take its place. We used to have a beautiful front lawn of green turf, but one year I didn’t rake, and then a few years we had massive flooding (which covered the grass with silt and weeds seeds). Now my yard is all weeds and I am trying to get the turf back.

2. Turn off all outdoor hoses.

The hoses must be turned off (most houses have a turn-off valve in their basement). If you don’t the water will freeze and the pipes will burst. Yeah, that happened to us one year, too. Oops. In New York, it’s very hard to remember this– we might have snow and bear-freezing temps for a week or two, but then the temperatures will bounce back up to the mid-60s and stay that way for a few weeks. We might still need the hose, for washing the cars, cleaning out the wheelbarow, etc. And then, BLAMMO, a hard freeze. I just hate having to turn off the water… but I hate replacing burst pipes even more.

3. Take down small gutters.

We have a small gutter system in the front of the house. And our house has a gabled roof with two steep pitches. All the water and snow from the front of the house careens down that pitched valley, right in front of the steps. I have NO IDEA why the home builder did this. In order to walk up the front steps to get to the door, you have to pass by this 3-foot by 10-foot icicle that stands next to the steps. That icicle takes our gutter system down every year (usually in the middle of night). So now, we remove it.

4. Clean up the garden beds. Make note of any new plants you’ve put in.

I have the kids weed the vegetable garden before winter. And then we dead-head just about everything. It looks nicer in the winter, and in the spring. And it makes us more motivated to get the garden thing rolling when the snows melts. Who wants to start a garden when you have to clean up the sloppy, watery winter mess? And I also have this problem of forgetting what new plants and bulbs I’ve planted. When spring rolls around, unless I’ve made notes of what I planted and where, Ihave forgotten; I practically have to do DNA testing to see if it’s a weed that must be pulled or a new plant I can leave.

5. Place outdoor furniture and appliances in storage.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but I have actually forgotten to do it. We have a barbeque, six chairs and a table, a lawn mower, countless games and toys, and more… winter preparation occurs at a busy time for me (school starts, insurance recertification process, the holidays, etc) and I forget. I have found that if I have the kids survey the entire yard, and then I take the time to do it once, we manage to tidy the yard and garage before snow hits.

6. Make sure your winter tools are working– BEFORE the big Nor’easter hits.

Our shovels used to last us a good 6-7 years. Now it seems they break every year. Is it cheaper manufacuring?! Nonetheless, I have to check all our shovels and make sure they work. It’s nasty to have 5 feet of snow in one day and not have a working shovel in the place. Same thing goes for boots, gloves, etc.

Those are the main things I do before winter hits with all its force. How about you? Got any tips?

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