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Boulder Landscape and Design

Winterize Your Irrigation System (and other fall maintenance)

Winterize Your Irrigation System - winter garden scenePlan ahead to get all tasks done and still have time for cider and pie!
It is tempting to lose momentum for landscape chores in the fall. Promise of immediate rewards such as new growth and bright colors is reserved for spring and summer. Instead, these months of fading light teach us patience, prudence and perseverance. Beyond the satisfaction of a neatly trimmed perennial bed and clean lawn, we will have to wait to see the fruits of our autumn labors!

Still, good fall clean ups lead to healthier landscapes and a better start to the next growing season. A few of the many benefits include:

  • A more attractive winter garden
  • Pest and disease reduction
  • Healthier soil and plant and grass roots

Below is a list of recommended maintenance for the fall landscape:

Irrigation and Sprinklers

  • Turn off and blow out sprinkler systems with an air compressor to eliminate the possibility of burst lines. Remember, October 6th is the average freeze date for Boulder. Though usually not harsh enough to freeze irrigation hoses, it is a signal that it is time to think about preparing your sprinkler system for winter. Remember to turn off the timing clocks and water valves.
  • If your watering system is manual (mobile sprinklers and hoses) keep an eye on night temperatures and disconnect if they drop below freezing. Manually drain your hoses and store them with your sprinklers. Be sure to turn off your outside water valves to keep pipes from freezing in winter.
  • Make plans to use mobile winter watering systems if we have a warm, dry winter. It is especially important to keep new plantings watered (anything planted this growing season).


  • Depending on weather, your last mowing will likely occur in the first half of October. Leave the grass a little higher than usual to prevent root dessication (about 3 inches).
  • Fall aeration will keep lawn soils from compacting and heaving in a wet cold winter.
  • If you like an early spring green-up in your grass, use winter fertilizer rather than an early spring fertilizer. It promotes good root growth for a stronger grass plant base rather than shocking the plant into early spring growth.
  • Rake leaves regularly to avoid damaging your lawn, leaching of tannins into the soil, and habitat for disease and pests.

Perennial Beds

  • Keep dead leaves and softer stems pruned back as they fade for a clean look and disease and pest prevention.
  • Preserve attractive rigid plant structures for interest in the winter garden. Examples include red twig dogwoods, burning bush stems, dried yarrow blossoms, rose hips, and ornamental grass plumes.
  • Add more mulch to prevent plant roots from drying over winter and to suppress early spring weeds.
  • Plant new and interesting bulbs for great spring color.
  • Winter water new plant additions during the warmer, dryer days.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Fall is a great time to prune trees and shrubs. As leaves fall, branch structure can be better seen and shaped. Trim weak branches to prevent winter snow breakage.
  • Winter water trees and shrubs planted this past season, especially if we get dry, warm weather.
  • Survey your landscape for better fall color. Where would a red or orange flame perk up fall foliage?
  • You can safely plant trees and shrubs through warm fall temperatures, as long as they are watered well during dry spells.

Stonework and Patios

  • Sweep fallen debris from patios and pathways regularly. Some leaves can stain stonework.
  • Check for uneven lay or stacking that might heave and break stone during winter freezes. Balancing the stones now can save replacing them in the spring.
  • Fall is a good time to plan and install new stonework, before the ground freezes.

Boulder Landscape and Design offers sprinkler turn offs, fall clean ups and other maintenance for your landscape! Trees and shrubs can be installed through the fall, so call now to schedule an update or complete redo for your fall landscape.