(BPT) - As September closes the door on summer with falling temperatures and leaves, many homeowners mistakenly slip into hibernation from yard work. However, this timeframe is crucial for prepping your yard for the coming winter— and positioning it to look its best the following spring.

The typical yard goes through a lot in a given year: natural wear and tear, rainstorms, dry spells, blankets of leaves, weeds and so on. Properly managing the inevitability before the season changes requires simple planning and a little elbow grease.

The following tips will help even the novice homeowner stay on top of things.

Fertilizing

Your yard is like a bear — it stores the most nutrients as possible to survive lean months. Fertilizer is the easiest route. Apply nitrogen fertilizer at a lower dosage than your spring application to promote growth and help roots prepare for the harsh winter months.

Raking

While it seems obvious, it is deceptively easy to let leaves and debris pile up to the point where a homeowner gives up for the season. Regular raking is one of the simplest ways to protect your lawn. Fallen leaves during the wintertime smother grass and can prevent new grass from sprouting. Moreover, getting the job done in the fall makes for a much drier chore come spring.

Aerating

Aeration is less common than raking and fertilizing but is just as important. Tools like the Strongway Tow-Behind Plug Aerator by Northern Tool + Equipment penetrate and extract plugs from lawns to loosen compacted soil and break up thatch. In turn, aerating frees up the soil to allow for air, nutrients and water to flow down to the roots of the grass. The rejuvenated roots grow deeper, producing a stronger and richer looking lawn.

Tree Therapy

Trimming and pruning trees are a heavy dose of risk management for homeowners.

Pruning branches allows new growth and can stop diseases from spreading to the rest of the tree. Troubleshoot your trees each fall for weak branches that may become weighed down by the weather. Having these trimmed will save you from the misfortunes of a broken window or hole in your roof.

Yard care should take a rightful place on homeowners’ winterization checklist, right next to installing storm doors and checking the furnace. As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.