As quickly as autumn weather arrives it seems to move aside for the blustery, cold days of winter. Winter can catch a person off guard and the seasons are now less predictable than ever before.

It’s never too early to begin preparing your yard and outdoor living spaces for winter. Homeowners may be sad to bid farewell to the furniture and accessories of the fair-weather season, but time is of the essence when prepping for impending ice and snow.

• Clean patio furniture. Give cushions and structures a thorough cleaning and allow to dry completely. Cleaning items before storing them for the winter saves time and energy next year when it’s time once again to set up the yard for recreation. If anything is damaged beyond repair, discard it and look for replacements during end-of-season sales when savings can be had.

• Move things indoors. The more items you can store in a safe and secure location the better. Load the garage, basement or storage shed with outdoor gear. Leaving items exposes them to the elements, and such exposure can cause rust, wear and damage. Flower pots and lawn ornaments also can blow around in winter wind or collapse under the weight of the snow, so collect these items and store them for the winter. Take out patio umbrellas and put them in the shed. If something is too large to move indoors, such as a barbecue or a pool filter, cover it with a durable tarp and secure it with rope.

• Cover delicate trees. Depending on where you live, certain fruit trees, including fig trees, may need to be covered for the winter. Covering protects them from subfreezing temperatures and helps ensure they will rebound in the spring. Tropical plants should be moved indoors where they can thrive in a heated home. Do not rip out chrysanthemum plants. Contrary to popular belief, these are not annuals. They will rebloom year after year if allowed to do so.

• Remove water collectors. Bring in or cover anything that may accumulate water, such as bird baths or kids’ toys. Water expands when frozen, and that means water trapped in any ceramic, glass or even plastic vessel can expand and cause the container to crack.

• Clean up leaves and debris. Piles of leaves not only can suffocate a lawn and cause discoloration, but also can be attractive homes for rodents and insects looking for a warm place to spend their winters. Keep your yard neat and clean to discourage wildlife from taking up residence near your home.

• Cover vegetable and flower beds. Invest in some burlap to lay down over planting beds. This helps to keep the ground from freezing over and minimize weeds for next season.

• Care for outdoor ponds. If you have a pond on your property, remove any weeds around it and fish out any leaves from the water. Leaves will decay in the water and build up ammonia levels that can harm fish. If the pond is small, cover it for the winter. Also, start cutting back on feeding outdoor fish. These aquatic animals’ bodies begin to prepare for winter by slowing down metabolism. Continuing to feed them can harm the fish when the temperature drops.

• Wrap up pool season. It’s wise to close the pool and cover it before leaves start to drop. Otherwise you will have a hard time of keeping the water clean.

• Plant spring bulbs now. Now is a good time to plan where you want to put spring bulbs. Once you have mapped things out, get the bulbs in the ground. Bulbs are relatively inexpensive and will provide that first punch of color when winter finally skips town.

— Metro Creative

Autumn is a busy time for preparing your home and yard for the arrival of winter weather.