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Tips for enjoying your yard, a winter wonderland

It just takes a little more creativity

Tips for enjoying your yard in the winter

Spending time outside in your own backyard and community green space – backyarding, as the TurfMuttFoundation calls it – is good for you no matter what time of year. When winter hits and the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, it just takes a little more creativity to turn your yard into an outdoor oasis. 

“Our living landscapes transform when our yards and parks are covered with white snow,” says Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation, which advocates for the care and use of our backyards, community parks and public green spaces. “Mutt Mulligan the TurfMutt and I really enjoy spending time outside even when it’s cold and snowy. We just have to prepare properly for it and plan ahead.”

Here are the TurfMutt Foundation’s suggestions for turning your backyard into a winter wonderland: 

  • Take cues from your dog. Most dogs love to play in the snow because it offers new smells to sniff out and a new layer to dig through. Lace up your winter boots and enjoy your yard with your family, including your dog. Snowballs make for an excellent game of fetch. If you get enough snow, you can even create an obstacle course for your furry friend. Using a snow thrower will make quick work of the task and can provide a clear path for your pup to do his “business,” too.

  • Light it up. Create a welcoming ambience that draws your family outside by stringing lights in your trees and shrubs and on your patio. You can also add lanterns and solar and battery operated candles around your yard to bathe your outdoor space in sparkly, inviting light. 

  • Add warmth. Being comfortable in the wintertime is all about temperature. Firepits are an excellent choice to add warmth, and they create an opportunity to gather around to make s’mores or tell stories. Patio heaters and outdoor fireplaces are another option to warm up your outdoor living room. For an added layer of comfort, set out a basket of blankets, along with packets of hand and toe warmers. 

  • Create snow activities. Lure your family outside by creating winter-themed activities that are fun for all ages. Snowball fights, snowman building sessions, a game of freeze tag, and even tic-tac-SNOW are just a few ways to make a game of being outside this winter. 

  • Attract wildlife. Throughout the year, your yard is an important part of the connected ecosystem, linking nature to the man-made world of our neighborhoods. Support wildlife in the wintertime by adding bird and squirrel feeders to your trees and patio. Then observe the kinds of wildlife that visit your yard and how they are different from other seasonal wildlife.

  • Involve your community. Who says neighborhood block parties can only happen in the summertime? Create community this winter by inviting your neighbors to participate in a Winter Wonderland Block Party. You can host a snowman building contest or snowball competition and serve hot chocolate to warm up. 

  • Explore community green space. Take your winter backyarding into the community by exploring your neighborhood parks and other community green spaces. Take a nature walk to identify the wildlife you can spot in the wintertime. Or lace up your snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore the winter landscape. Grab the other kids on your block or in your building and hit the sledding hill at the community park. The options are endless!

  • Dress for success. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. Remember to bundle up and wear layers when you head outside this winter. You will also want to keep your pet safe by monitoring their time outside and removing the snow from under their bellies and in between their paw pads before heading back inside. Remember, if you are cold, your pet probably is, too.

For more, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation here. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, Look for Mulligan the TurfMutt on the CBS Lucky Dog television show.

TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Championed by Foundation spokesdog, Mulligan the TurfMutt, and through education partners such as Weekly Reader, Discovery Education and Scholastic, TurfMutt has taught students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” More information at

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