Halloween is over and the temperatures are starting to go down. Before you know it, there will be a blanket of white covering the ground.

Is your yard ready for the winter? If not, don't fret. The Hastings Star Gazette spoke with Joby Nolan with Precision Landscaping and Construction about how you can best prepare your yard for the cold months to come.

Fall yard care:

• First things first - make sure to winterize your irrigation system before the ground freezes. You can do it yourself or have a professional do it, but it is important to get it done to reduce the risk of breaking pipes when the temperatures drop.

• Aerate and overseed your lawn. This will help fill in thin spots and thicken up the turf. When spring comes around, this will help block out weeds.

• Apply one last round of fertilizer. Although grass growth slows down at the surface, the root system will continue to grow until temperatures drop below 40 degrees. "A high phosphorus fertilizer can help the lawn to green up quicker in the spring," Nolan said.

• Make sure to take care of the leaves so that your yard does not get smothered during the winter. You can have them removed or mulch them to be used in your garden later.

• Clean up, cut back and deadhead any perennials. This will allow your plant to produce more blooms when spring rolls around.

• For young plants, it is a good idea to add 2 to 4 inches of mulch or chopped up leaves to insulate and help them retain moisture. "You can also wrap any plants that are susceptible to winter kill with a light fabric or burlap to keep them protected," Nolan said.

• Prune back shrubbery and cut any dead limbs. Make sure to get anything that may touch the house or that is blocking any vents or air intakes.

• Clean out gutters and downspouts. This step helps prevent ice buildup in the winter.