Getting the Backyard Ready for the New Year

The New Year is finally upon us! It won’t be long now before the inground pool cover is removed and swimming pool season is here. In the meantime, there are many things consumers can do now to get their backyard ready for the New Year.

Winter is an opportune time to sharpen all backyard tools. Pruning shears, shovels, and lawn mower blades work better when they are razor sharp. Getting the backyard tools in tiptop shape now will save time-and effort-long-term. Properly cleaning and storing these tools after each use will also make them last longer.

Pruning any trees and shrubs during the colder months also works well, as new growth during warm weather can up the risk of disease. Prune fruit trees before their buds begin to bloom to reduce the risk of a tinier crop due to stress on the tree. It is advisable to divide perennials at this time-before they have begun their spring growth.

One way to add a bit of color to any yard is to plant some evergreen trees. They can serve as a focal point in the yard throughout the year. They come in several varieties and colors to enhance a winter landscape, such as a Western red cedar, Gold Thread false cypress, or blue spruce. Another idea is to use summer window boxes and hanging baskets for evergreen winter favorites such as holly and rhododendron. Choose different colors and textures, and add some twigs. Don’t forget to water them when there is no rain or snow.

If there are plans for having a summer vegetable garden, begin preparations now by germinating all the seeds indoors. Depending on the plant, you can look up when to start the seeds indoors, or plant them in the ground directly, based on the last frost date in your area.

If you are missing your grill or hot tub during the winter, why not build a covered structure over them to keep them free of snow? The ability to use these typical summer amenities in the winter can add an element of excitement to an otherwise dreary time of the year! You can also add items such as a bench, trellis, or garden sculpture to liven up your backyard during the winter. Install low-voltage or LED lighting to accent the landscape while you grill, enjoy your hot tub, bird watch, or view winter wildlife.

If conservation is on your mind, consider reducing water use in your backyard by installing an irrigation system or sprinkler system. Today’s technology uses “smart” systems that not only know when it’s time to water, but how much water to use. You can also plant low-maintenance bushes and shrubs that don’t require excessive water.

Before you know it, the warmer months will be here, and you will see your gorgeous LOOP-LOC swimming pool liner again while you frolic in the cool water. Get your backyard in shape now so you have more time to enjoy your pool!

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.