How to Prep Your Backyard For Winter
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Sunbelt Rentals. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.
Last fall, things were a bit chaotic over here. I had Ellis five weeks early in mid-September and then it was life with a toddler and a newborn throughout the remainder of the year. We didn’t do much to prepare our outdoors for winter and it showed when spring arrived. Our outdoor furniture was damaged from months of snow; our grass was mangled from piles of leaves that were never collected; and everything was in rough shape after a long hard winter.
This year, I vowed to prep our backyard for winter and I even wrote it down on my editorial calendar many months ago. When that happens, it becomes a priority around here! I wanted to tackle these tasks before Thanksgiving, so we could spend all of our holiday weekends enjoying our time together as a family.
7 Tasks To Prep Your Backyard For Winter
I devoted a full day to crossing everything off of my list (and lucked out with a beautiful warm day) and I’m happy to say that our backyard is now prepped for winter. Of course, these tasks may vary, based on your climate. Here in Chicago, we experience a lot of snow and cold from December through March, so these tasks are all a must here in the midwest.
Clear Your Gutters and Downspouts
We live in an old neighborhood with lots of big beautiful trees. The colors were exquisite this fall season and I loved strolling the neighborhood with the kids, checking out all of the leaves. What I don’t love is when all of those leaves fall and get stuck in our gutters. Ugh. I waited until the big trees near us shed all of their leaves before accomplishing this task.
We own a regular 7′ ladder that we use for various DIY and home projects. But, it isn’t quite tall enough to reach the roofline of our garage, where most of the leaves accumulate. To stay safe, a ladder should extend three feet above the roofline. Instead of buying a huge ladder that we won’t use very often, and would have to store in our garage, I rented a 24-foot extension ladder from Sunbelt Rentals.
Initially, I was worried about getting it home with our SUV. Would I tie it to the hood of the car? Then, I learned that Sunbelt Rentals offers delivery! I even added a few more tools that I wanted to try out (more on those below) to my order, so they were all delivered together. The Sunbelt specialist pulled up with the truck, dropped all of the items exactly where I wanted them, and then spent 15-20 minutes with me, reviewing all of them. It was awesome!
Back to the gutters. With my extension ladder in place, I took a bucket up to the top of the roofline to check it out. When we moved in, we put these gutter shields on the gutters and that keeps a lot of stuff out of there. I’m so happy we installed them; they just snap right into place. A few of the shields had shifted, so I did have to clear some muck and leaves from the gutters while I was up there.
We have a two-story home, so I leave the very top roofline of our house to the professionals. You’ve gotta know your DIY limits, especially when it comes to safety!
Store Outdoor Planters and Accessories
With the gutters cleared, it was time to work on our planters. As you read here, we planted for fall in late August and the front window box and planters stayed looking good for all of September and October. Now that the temps are chillier and we’ve had a few frosts, they took a turn for the worse. It was time to dump them.
I got rid of all of the dead flowers and pumpkins and stored away our lanterns and other outdoor accessories. As for the big pots, I ended up leaving the soil and keeping them outside because they’re super heavy! Hopefully, I’ll be able to re-use the dirt when it’s time to plant again next May.
Collect Your Leaves
Since I was already renting an extension ladder from Sunbelt Rentals, I asked if they had any other tools that might help with my list of tasks. They recommended trying out a lawn vacuum. Holy smokes, this thing is amazing! It works similarly to a lawn mower, but instead of cutting the grass, it sucks up all of the leaves like a vacuum.
We had so many leaves in the side and front yards and it would have taken me at least half a day to rake them all and bag them up. I was able to zoom around with this machine and it sucked them all up in about thirty minutes. It has a big bag on the back that collects all of the leaves.
If you have a large lawn, or just a ton of leaves, I highly recommend renting one of these for a day! Or, you could also rent one and vacuum a few yards in your neighborhood. I did a few front lawns on our block to help out our awesome neighbors.
Pressure Wash Sidewalks and Cushions
You know I love a good power washing session and I had to get one more in before we shut off our water for the season. I rented this gas-powered pressure washer from Sunbelt Rentals and it worked like a dream. We already own an electric power washer, but sometimes I feel that it doesn’t have enough “oomph” to really get our cushions clean. I wanted to try this one out before I invest in a gas-powered pressure washer myself.
I lined up all of our outdoor cushions and went to work hosing them down. They had seen a lot of action over the summer (bird poop, spills, and stains) and I wanted to get everything clean before I stored them away for the season. Wow, they got so clean, so fast! I didn’t even use a cleaning solution, just plain ol’ high-pressured water to remove all of the dirt. I then let them dry in the sun before moving on to the next task on my list…
Cover Outdoor Furniture
We don’t have enough room to store away all of our outdoor furniture in our garage or basement, so we’ve invested in quality furniture covers.
We have this one on our couch and I just purchased this cover for our outdoor table. It’s large enough to cover the entire table, plus the chairs! The chaise lounger is slim, so we were able to sneak that into the garage, along with the chairs on the deck. Everything else is covered and ready for the snow and cold!
Remove Outdoor Hose & Turn Off Your Water
Here’s one of the most important tasks on the list. Be sure to turn off your outdoor water for the season. If you don’t, you run the risk of a pipe freezing and bursting. That happened to a neighbor of ours last winter and their entire basement flooded. I know how that feels, so be sure to follow this step.
I removed the outdoor hose by sliding it off of the bracket. Then, I turned the water off at the spigot and went inside to turn it off there too. Our exterior water has its own line that we’re able to shut off. Tip: If the handle is parallel to the pipe, that usually means it’s on (like in the photo above). If it’s turned perpendicular, then it’s off. I turned this off and then headed outside again.
For extra protection, install a faucet protector. This insulates the spigot so it doesn’t crack and prevents it from getting too cold. You can find these covers at any hardware store (or here on Amazon) for just a few bucks. This is an easy step to prevent serious damage down the line and it can be re-used again and again.
Take Inventory Of Your Winter Supplies
Finally, I took inventory of our salt and shovels. Sadly, snow will be here before we know it and I want to make sure we’re prepared for snow removal right away! I hit up the hardware store and stocked up on more salt and got everything all set up in our garage for easy access. In years past, we’ve been running to the hardware store at the first big snowstorm and it’s never fun.
Winter, Bring It On!
Mentally, I’m not quite ready for the snow and cold to arrive. But, our house is definitely prepped and ready to go. Now, let’s just hope it’s a nice mild winter around here. It might be wishful thinking on my part…
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.