According to the Alliance to Save Energy, the average U.S. household spent about $1,900 on home energy bills in 2005. As the first signs of winter appear many consumers begin to winterize their homes to keep their energy bills from rising during the colder months. A few weekend fix-up projects will make this winter more comfortable and help homeowners save up to 25 percent on heating costs.

It might seem silly to do yard work now to prepare your lawn for the spring, but if you neglect it all winter, you’ll be in for a ton of weeds and discolored grass next year. The best time to start winterizing your lawn is between mid-September to mid-October. It’s more effective to treat the lawn in the fall because plants and seeds are left to grow without being inhibited by pests and disease problems. It’s important to winterize your lawn by weeding, raking, de-thatching, aerating, fertilizing and mulching.

Weeding and Raking

• The first two things that you need to do are to weed and rake the yard. Weeds can be a nightmare, but they can be contained. Be sure to get all of the weeds out of the ground to avoid the weed planting a seed that will grow during the vibrant fall season and fill your yard with weeds in the spring.
• Non-chemical weeding methods include: pulling weeds by hand, uprooting with a tool, smothering with a blanket of mulch or landscape cover, and close planting may help prevent weeds.
• Chemical herbicides are very effective to inhibit the growth of weeds or simply kill them.
• Herbicides fall into two categories: post-emergence herbicides (kill existing weeds) and pre-emergence herbicides (kill seeds as they germinate, but don’t kill growing plants).
• The four types of post-emergence herbicides are contact, systemic, selective and nonselective. • Raking removes leaves that can compact the ground soil, damage the blades of grass and limit the amount of air the lawn receives, thereby hampering growth and lawn revitalization.

Fertilizer

• Applying winterizing fertilizer to lawn is the most important step in the winterizing process. Lawns need nutrients to survive and nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are considered the primary mineral nutrients. Winterizer fertilizer gives plants the essential nutrients they need to survive even a cold, harsh winter because it gives the lawn a great deal of phosphorus allowing stronger roots to grow.
• Apply fertilizer twice in the fall: in early fall and again in late fall. The different types of spreaders include drop, broadcast and hand.

Mulch

• Mulch is simple and effective and provides several benefits for the yard, including: controls pesky weeds; conserves soil moisture; protects plans from cold winter temperatures; insulates in winter; prevents soil erosion; and attracts earthworms, which aerate and fertilize the soil.
• There are different types of mulches to choose from: mixed textured, shredded cedar, sierra red, rich black, dark brown and pine straw/needles.
• Mulching should be done in the fall and should be six inches deep. Compost free, super-soil-building mulch will be most effective. Mulch several inches away from plant stems and trunks so water can reach roots.

And Finally…

• Bring garden hoses inside
• Cover out door faucets
• Install frost and freeze resistant faucets

Indoor Winterization

• Cover/insulate pipes
• Cover/insulate windows and glass doors
• Add insulation to outlets

Products

• Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fertilizer — $10.88
Builds, stronger, deeper roots for winter — see a greener, thicker lawn next spring

• Scotts Lawn Pro Super Winterizer with Plus 2 Weed Control — $13.88
Kills dandelions and other broadleaf weeds completely

• Faucet Cover — $2.97
Insulating cover protects against freezing wind and chill. Simple Installation and removal.

• Silcock Frost Freeze Faucet — $9.78

• Frost King Air Conditioner Cover — $3.98
Winterize poly/fabric protection window units from weather damage while eliminating drafts. Come in sizes to fit the BTU capacity of your air conditioner.

• Self Seal Polyethylene Pipe Foam — $2.97
Pre-slit to snap onto pipes quickly and easily. In sizes to fit pipes of various diameters. Also in self-sealing style.

• Frost King Patio Door Kit and/or Frost King Window Kit — $5.98-7.99
Crystal clear film shrinks tight and wrinkle free using any hand held hair dryer. Installed using double stick tape, which is included

• Frost King Socket Sealer — $2.17
Made of a UL-listed fire retardant plastic foam. Pre-stamped to fit precisely. Install easily behind faceplate and are completely invisible

• Frost King Garage Door Bottom Seal — $7.48
The design of the rubber strip cushions and compensates for uneven concrete as it seals out dirt, drafts, and water

For more information visit: www.homedepot.com