Step-By-Step Sustainability: Think Green When You Get Your Home And Yard Ready For Winter

Step-By-Step Sustainability: Think Green When You Get Your Home And Yard Ready For Winter

  • This article was contributed by Jessica Mino, Kane County Resource Management Coordinator, as part of the Step-By-Step Sustainability series.

It seems like winter weather is already setting in this year. Even though the nights are cold, standard fall yard and home maintenance still applies.

Over the next few weekends, I’ll be found outside working in the yard and preparing for winter as I am sure many of you are. While the seasons change, there are some things we can do to support our waterways and wildlife, as well as prepare for what is ahead.

Leaf Management

The first big snowfall quickly brought down leaves from deciduous trees all at once.

Do NOT rake your leaves into the street. It can clog the stormwater sewers.

What to do with all those leaves? Leaves are actually full of nutrients that are great for our yards, but can be harmful to our waterways.

To keep these nutrients as natural fertilizer, we mulch them into the yard. Another option is to leave some in your garden beds. This not only insulates perennials, but provides valuable cover for burrowing insects and pollinators.

If you prefer curbside leaf collection, it is important to pile the leaves on the edge of the lawn and not actually in the street curb.

When it rains, the leaves will slowly leach nutrients into the storm drains, which often goes straight to the river.

Our rivers are currently impaired from nutrient overload, and we don’t want our residential properties to add to the problem.

In addition, leaves that are washed away clog the storm drains and cause flooding in the roads. So make sure to rake leaves out of curbside gutters, especially prior to a rain.

Leave Vegetation                      

While cleaning up this fall, we make sure to not make our gardens a clean slate. Pollinators and other wildlife need some cover and places to ride out the winter. We leave our native plants in place, as the Conservation@Home suggests.

For plants that need to be pruned, we simply do this in the early spring when we are itching to get outside anyway.

As a result, our gardens are enjoyed by bees and butterflies throughout the seasons.


Fall is also the time to insulate before the extreme cold weather moves in. Having proper insulation has many benefits:

  • Conserves energy which lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Lowers energy costs for heating your home.
  • Lowers chance of ice dams on roof during winter. The secret is to insulate before ice dams occur.

With these steps, you will be able to take your next stride toward sustainability this fall.

Read The Step-By-Step Sustainability Series!