As we head into the middle of October and with the thought of snow unwelcoming, it’s still possible to start winterizing your yard before the colder weather arrives.  

Leslie Cornell, the owner of Cornell Design and Landscaping says that right now is the perfect time to start pruning and trimming your trees, bushes and herbaceous perennials.  Cornell is one of the architects of the Humboldt Urban Garden Sanctuary. 

“You can see at this point what you remembered was dead, diseased or damaged and that can come out. You can give a shape to a few things,” says Cornell. “I wouldn’t cut things back really hard but you can do a little trimming to get ahead of things before we get into winter.” 

When it comes to your herbaceous perennials, Cornell adds to keep the stems that will stick around and then in the spring do a final cleanup.  

Sticking with your trees and shrubs, she notes that this time of the year is a great time for planting as the ground is still warm.  

“They go in and they’re going to sleep already and you just water them in and it is ready, sitting there waiting for spring.” 

When it comes to your yard and plants, she says that most of the winter preparations should’ve been done already such as fertilizing your yard. If you’re a little behind, she explains some ways to prepare your yard or plants for what lies ahead.  

“We should not be watering anymore we don’t need to. It’s cold at night so the plants aren’t using their water at night at all. Things have dropped their leaves. Leaves are what pull the water through the roots up to the top of the plant. Once we don’t have leaves the plant is in reverse mode.” 

If you have a newly planted plant, Cornell says it’s OK to continue to water it once a week to make sure it doesn’t dry up, but a lot of moisture won’t be necessary.  

With your lawn, she advises residents not to have a lush green lawn at this point in the year, as it needs to prepare itself for winter. It will need to deplete some moisture and focus on its roots, as that is the main priority for your yard.  

“Making sure the roots have what they need to get through winter. Overall plant health, and stability.” 

“Typically, you would want to use a fall fertilizer that’s quite low in Nitrogen because we’re not feeding the grass blades anymore those are just the leaves.” 

Within fall fertilizer there is potassium, which works on winter hardiness and helps roots prepare for winter. She explains that the best time to apply your fall fertilizer is in September, as right now the grass and plants are getting ready to go to sleep and won’t absorb as much of the nutrients.  

Lastly, Cornell recommended that residents clear off their yards entirely of fallen leaves heading into winter, as the covered surface could be subject to snow mold.  

“A layer of leaves you have even more chance of growing that mold, which can cause fungal damage to your yard.”