When winter storms are looming in the forecast, do you know what to do to prepare your outdoor living area? Hint: panic buying every roll of toilet paper and loaf of bread on the grocery store shelves is not the answer. Instead, spending just a few minutes on small outdoor chores before the first flake of snow hits the ground could save you big time in costly repairs or labor-intensive cleanup. 

Fire pits should always be covered when not in use. Standing water inside these features can cause structural damage and rust. Use a heavy tarp that covers every inch of your fire pit. If you have a gas-powered fire feature, now is the time to temporarily disconnect the gas lines. 

Wondering what to do with your outdoor furniture? Ideally, you could find a spot in a basement or shed for them to stay out of the elements. But if you need to leave your furniture outside, make sure each piece has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, and then cover them with a tarp. 

While you’re at it, take a look around your outdoor space for clay or ceramic decorative items or pots. Water can swell and crack these items. It’s best to find space for them inside during times of extreme temperature fluctuations. 

Frozen or matted leaves and yard debris can cause unsightly stains on patio pavers. If precipitation is in the forecast, you’ll want to take time to make sure your patio is swept clean. Another threat to those prized patio pavers is an ice-melt product made with salt. Choose your ice-melt carefully to prevent damage. Kitty litter, sand, and even coffee grounds could be good alternatives. Consult with your landscape architect to find the best product for your specific hardscaping. When it’s time to shovel, only use all-plastic models as steel edging can scrape and scratch pavers. 

Before a storm hits, make sure your snow removal equipment is functioning and easily accessible. A snowblower won’t be much use to you if it’s stuck in the back of your shed or garage or if it gives up halfway down your driveway. Check to see if you have gasoline in the tank. Snowblower spark plugs should be changed once a year.  

Last but certainly not least, while you’ve got storm prep on your mind you might want to consider any elderly neighbors who may need a helping hand. Check-in with them before nasty weather rolls in to see if they have everything they need or if they need help with any small outdoor chores that could save them future time and money. 

Congratulations! You’re ready to ride out whatever Mother Nature sends your way. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty and peace of a snowfall that hasn’t taken you by surprise.