The good news is that if you prepare ahead, you can save yourself time and money. Taking some good housekeeping steps now will allow you to step outside into the fresh spring air next year to a well-preserved outdoor space.
Where to begin? First, if your deck is looking a little worn and tired, make the necessary repairs now. Don't wait until you can stick your foot through a board (like I did). That's not only dangerous but it also mandates a quick fix.
Give your deck a good cleaning and sealing or staining before the weather gets too cold and wet to do this. Make sure you check for loose nails and get rid of any splintery edges by sanding them down. Seal with waterproofing sealants. For these, generally the weather has to be above 32 degrees F and 50 degrees F for sealing and stains, respectively, to work properly.
Put the clippers to work. Take a good look around your yard and decide which plants need to go. Many annuals may have been killed by frost and it's time to clear them away. Keep your flowers looking good by trimming away dead leaves. If you cut your plants back now it will cause them to grow and flower more effectively later on.
Add seasonal plants. You can still have some nice color in your yard if you get the right plants for your yard's climate. Kale and ornamental cabbage are attractive. In warmer climates try primroses for winter color.
Use creative containers with your seasonal plants. Putting a perennial plant in a beautifully painted container can add style and allure to your patio all winter long.
Plant potted vegetables. Nothing's better than fresh food especially when it comes from your own yard. There are some cool-weather vegetables that work well in pretty pots. Things like lettuce: kale, leaf, mustard, and Chinese cabbage are good for this. Also, don't forget herbs; they'll come in handy for the holiday dinners.
Get artsy. Making your yard look good in winter is also about what you leave outside. Those brightly colored throw pillows and rugs that worked great in summer, of course, should be brought inside. Instead get creative with lights that give a sparkle on a cold winter night. Hang plants with ornaments on them. Also, hang bird feeders to attract birds.
Taking a few simple steps to keep your deck, yard, and outdoor furniture in good condition will give you an easy progression into spring. And, if you're listing your home for sale in the winter, these steps are sure to please buyers.