The last leaves of autumn are tumbling off the trees, which means that ice and snow season is just around the corner. All that winter precipitation can do a number on your home and yard, so don’t wait until your roof is covered in the white stuff to prepare. Read on to learn about four steps you can take to protect your property before the first flakes fall.

Clean Your Gutters

Dirty gutters are a common culprit of damaged roofs during the winter season. All those fall leaves gum them up, then the ice and snow that follows has nowhere to go. The frozen precipitation backs up for months until the spring thaw when it sits trapped in your gutter gunk slowly dripping moisture that can rot adjacent shingles. Save yourself a headache by cleaning out your gutters before the first snow.

Cover Shrubs With Tarps

Old Man Winter takes a heavy toll on all vegetation, but many types of shrubs are especially vulnerable to the chill. Protect them from wind with a burlap windbreak and cover them with a tarp to keep snow accumulation from breaking their delicate branches. Consider using a custom tarp built to the exact dimensions of your shrubs to keep them snug and cozy.

Protect Driveways and Patios

Snow and ice are notorious for cracking driveways, sidewalks and other cement structures. Protect your concrete from winter weather, salt and sand with a waterproof epoxy coating. Your wooden deck or patio can also suffer in the cold, so paint it with a coat or two of polyurethane before the first snowfall. After the spring thaw, your concrete and wooden surfaces will still look like new.

Have Your Roof Inspected

Roofs are a common casualty of winter weather. Your shingles can be damaged by wind, snow, ice or even soot and embers from your fireplace. What’s worse, the frozen form of precipitation that falls in the winter can disguise roof leaks until it melts in the spring and leaves you with a mess. Have a professional check your roof for leaks and other issues before winter arrives to make sure your shingles are sound. Don’t forget to have your chimney cleaned too.

Although winter preparation might seem like a daunting task, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking these steps today can save you time, money and stress come spring. Make a checklist and take care of one or two tasks per day.