So you’ve aerated, overseeded and fertilized your lawn. What’s left on the to-do list for the remainder of the year? When it comes to winter lawn care, there are plenty of tasks get done before Old Man Winter officially hits. While you’re decorating the inside of your house with holiday cheer, don’t forget to winter-proof your yard and home’s exterior to keep it safe from frost, freezing temps, and Indiana snowstorms. Grab a hat and gloves, and get the outside of your home ready to brave the elements:

Winter Preparation Checklist: Home Exterior and Lawn

  • Leaves: If your grass is covered in a blanket of dead leaves, it can’t get the light it needs to generate and process nutrients this winter. Plus, clearing the leaves on your lawn improves air circulation and drying, guards against snow mold, and denies winter shelter to insects and rodents. Continue to deal with fallen leaves by raking or mulching with your lawn mower.
  • Lawn Mower: Winterize your lawn mower. Empty the gas tank, change the oil, clean dirt and grease from the exterior, and check your blade and replace if needed. Store in a shed, garage, or basement until next season.
  • Plants: Cut back dead plants and perennials’ stems an inch or two from the ground, and cover new trees and shrubs. Bring plants and flowering trees inside if you can.
  • Lawn Tools and Furniture: Clean and store your lawn tools and garden hoses. Same goes for your outdoor furniture and grill: Make sure those are cleaned, covered, and stored properly.
  • Deck and Patio: Sweep any lingering leaves and debris from the deck or patio, and remove or replace any loose deck screws and nails with new ones.
  • Sprinkler System: Shut off your sprinkler system’s water supply, and wrap the main shutoff valve and above-ground piping in insulating tape or foam tubes. This will keep your sprinkler pipes from causing problems when the temperature drops below freezing.
  • Outdoor Faucets: Prevent issues caused by freezing water by closing the inside valve to each outdoor faucet. Once they’re shut off, go outside and turn the faucet handle a bit to release any remaining water in the pipes.
  • Gutters and Roof: Remove any leaves, branches, trash, and other debris from your roof, stuck in your shingles, and in your gutters. Clean out and clear downspouts, too.
  • Windows, Doors, Garage: Check all windows and doors for cracks and drafts. Weatherstrip, caulk, and use outlet protectors to prevent cold air from entering your home and to keep the heat in (which can help you save big on your energy bills this season). Same goes for your garage door: Consider insulation or installing a weather seal where the garage door meets the ground.
  • Snow Gear: Bring out the snow shovels, ice melt, and snow blower so they will be ready for the first snow. Just make sure to not use rock salt on your driveway to melt ice and snow — the sodium in salt can draw the liquid out of your lawn and causes the grass near your driveway to turn brown and die. Consider calcium chloride or a magnesium mix instead.
  • Frosted Lawn: When the frost hits, be sure to stay off of your lawn (no walking or mowing). When your grass is covered in frost, it loses elasticity and the blades break, resulting in a damaged lawn marked by brown foot-sized spots that might not repair themselves until spring.

By taking care of these tasks now and in early winter, you’ll have a head start on your lawn care and outdoor home maintenance for the next year. Trust us, your spring self will thank you later!