Winterizing Tips for the Northwest

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Let's take a look at a few timely chores that will help make your Northwest home cozier -- and safer -- this winter. When there's frost on the pumpkin -- and on your lawn -- it's time to devote a weekend to winter maintenance. You'll be glad you did. Not preparing for winter can wreak havoc on your home, and wallet.

Cleaning Gutters and Downspouts

Rain is inevitable. All that wet stuff is great for your lawn and trees but let a little start pooling on your roof and you've got big problems. One way to insure that your shingles survive for another year is to make sure your gutters and downspouts are free of leaves, dirt and other debris before the weather turns harsh.

  • If you don't have gutter guards (protective gutter covers), it pays to grab a ladder, put on your heavy duty work gloves and give your roof gutters a visual inspection and a good cleaning.
  • A strong spray from a garden hose will help loosen that stubborn layer of silt that can clog your gutters, and some elbow grease will do the rest.
  • Be sure to check your gutters for damage and deterioration like gaps, tears and loose screws.
  • Water falling from your roof directly onto your foundation can be as potentially destructive as water pooling around your roof flashing.

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A few of hours is all it takes to get the job done for another year!

how to winterize in the northwest

Exterior Faucets and Outdoor Rooms

  • When a cold snap is eminent, shut off the water to your outdoor faucets and move your hoses into the garage. While you're at it, winterize the water features on your property like fountains, rain barrels, fish ponds and birdbaths. This includes draining the water from pumps and tubing.
  • If you're lucky enough to have a patio, deck or furnished outdoor room, cover or move chairs, tables, loungers and barbecue equipment to protect them from winter weather extremes. If you can't move all of your furnishings, store fabric items like cushions and pillows in your basement, shed or garage for the duration. Taking care of these items now will extend their useful life and make spring maintenance faster and easier next year.
  • If you have potted plants on your deck, their roots will be vulnerable to a hard frost. Either take them indoors, or if the plants are winter hardy, bury them -- pots and all -- in your flowerbeds. You can dig them up again in the spring and they'll be ready for another season.
  • This is also a good time to take a look around and relocate any landscape decor items that may be too delicate to survive in rough weather. For example: Terra cotta statuary and pots are porous and can shatter in a hard freeze, and glass or items like wind chimes will often break in windy conditions.

Anticipating the way the weather could impact your outdoor possessions will help you protect your material and landscape investments.

Winterizing Your Landscaping

Before you head in the house to start weather stripping your doors and windows, take an afternoon to remove deadwood from your trees and secure your shutters and any other large items on your property. With winter storm systems come fallen tree branches, downed power lines and damage caused by flying debris. The more potential hazards you eliminate from your property now, the fewer safety issues you'll have to worry about later.

Cleaning up your landscape has other benefits, too. Eliminating deadwood will reduce your risk of attracting vermin and termites, and trimming back your shrubs will help prepare them for winter and increase the chance they'll be around next spring.

Before there's a blanket of frost or snow on the ground, put your flowerbed to sleep under a protective blanket of mulch, too. Mulching your plants helps insulate their roots from the cold. Soil amendments like mulch improve the performance of your flowerbeds from year to year too.

Last Updated: November 30, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like,, and

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