Whether you buy or rent, you’re usually considered lucky if you have a decent yard around your property. While it’s great to have a space for outdoor activities, maintaining your outdoor area becomes more difficult when there is a larger area to tend to.

Before colder temperatures set in, be sure to prep your yard accordingly so there’s less work to do in the spring.

The First Frost

If you ask any of Pennsylvania’s country folk, they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t mow your lawn after the first frost. Years ago, October 1st was the golden date, but warmer temperatures have lingered more recently. During your last mow of the year, cut the lawn to 2-2.5 inches (instead of the usual 3-3.5 inches). This will protect new growth while preventing your lawn from becoming a home to unwanted pests.

Before the first frost, you should also remove any leaves and debris from the lawn that could stunt the grown of new grass. And although your lawn won’t use fertilizer while in its dormant stage, it’s recommended that you aerate and fertilize the lawn before the first frost in preparation for spring’s warming temperatures.


If you have trees and shrubs as part of your landscape, you should remember to prune them in late winter. Because new spring growth is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for the plants to handle a bit of damage.

Consider applying a 2-inch layer of mulch to reduce water loss and regulate soil temperature, and also take precautions to protect your plants from wind, snow, ice and salt. Some experts recommend shielding evergreens and other plants with burlap wrapping or applying anti-transpirants.

Snow Storms

If you have any low-hanging or weak branches, gently brush any snow and ice from the limbs to prevent them from breaking, especially if the trees are above a parking area. If possible, remove those limbs or tie branches together as a preventative measure.

When living in an area maintained by snow plows, be sure to mark your landscaping for snow removal before a storm.

In some ways, those in the city are luckier than those with more land. Although your yard may require some maintenance, the biggest responsibility for you will be shoveling snow from your sidewalk and steps. If you rent, be sure you and your landlord have an agreement outlining who is responsible for snow removal.