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shutterstock_93224281You’ve invested a lot into your backyard, including time and money spent on designing, landscaping, cleaning and weed pulling. Hundreds of record-low temperatures are being set across the country as the Siberian Express continues to pummel the central and eastern United States. Don’t let the winter freeze ruin all your hard work. Use these tips to winterize your backyard:

Defend the Deck

The deck is the go-to spot for warm weather outdoor gatherings, but in winter this area of the backyard is barren and prone to damage. Take care of your deck by prepping it for harsh conditions.

Moisture from the ice and snow can seep into an unprotected surface can cause damage like splitting, warping and cracking. Protect against mildew, moss, algae and mold caused by winter moisture by thoroughly cleaning the deck with a bleach-free cleaner like Jomax Deck Wash. This bleach-free cleaner is easy to use; just attach the applicator to a garden hose and spray. Follow this up with a clear, water-repellent finish like Rust-Oleum Premium Water Sealer. According to HGTV, the Rust-Oleum finish will protect your deck from harsh winter weather for up to three years.

Protect the Pool

Winterizing your swimming pool can help protect it from freezing winter temperatures and also prepare it for the next swimming season.

Begin by ensuring that the pool chemistry is balanced. Outdoor Living Today suggests keeping the pH level between 7.2 and 7.6, the alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm and the calcium hardness between 180 to 220 ppm. You may wish to lower the water level with a submersible pump and draining all the filters, pumps, heaters and chlorinators to prevent cracking and freezing during the winter season.

Be sure to store your pool accessories and cleaners in your garage or storage shed to avoid damage and keep them looking like new. It’s also advisable to invest in a pool cover to keep debris out of the pool. In the Swim, a pool accessories and parts retailer, offers dozens of covers for many different shapes and sizes of pools.

Guard the Garden Tools

Prep your garden tools for winter by giving them a quick cleaning and sharpening. Martha Stewart offers a two-step process for cleaning and sharpening garden tools. First, use a sharpening stone along the edges of the tools. To clean the tools wipe the blades with isopropyl alcohol and use steel wool and basic household oils such as vegetable oil to lubricate the works and keep the blades from rusting. After the cleaning, store your tools in the garage or shed away from any moisture-ridden areas.

Preserve the Patio Furniture

Lightweight, plastic furniture items can be easily stored in the garage, but heavier pieces of furniture (made of wrought iron, for example) can be left outdoors. If you plan to leave the heavy items outside, be sure to cover them with the manufacturers’ covers made from durable vinyl or large plastic bags. Fabric cushions should be stored indoors, however, and make sure to clean the fabric items before storing to eliminate bugs and spiders.

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