The Ultimate Winter Cottage Guide to Enjoy the Muskoka Landscape
As Muskoka landscapeowners, we know that not everyone closes up their cottages for the winter. There’s plenty of people who use them as their second home all year round. We’ve created a helpful guide for those who want to get out in the cold months too. Below, you’ll find practical tips and recommendations for that cozy time out at your Muskoka cottage!
Let’s Start With the Practical
Taking care of your cottage is a bit different in the winter, compared to the summer months. The cold and snow can be harmful. Here’s just a few things you should be sure to check, whether you’re going to be visiting every couple of months or not.
Insulate your cottage: Make sure that your cottage is properly insulated to keep the heat in and the cold out. This can be done through the use of insulation materials in the walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as weather stripping around doors and windows. You will want to start with your doors and windows. Use draft stoppers on the bottom of doors and weatherstripping around the windows.
Insulate your plants: As Muskoka landscapeowners, it’s of course our duty to tell you to take care of those beautiful gardens, bushes, etc. before winter hits. Be sure to move any plants inside that won’t survive the cold months. For bushes and trees that you can’t move inside, you can insulate them using burlap.
Install a heating system: If your cottage doesn’t already have a heating system, consider installing one to keep it warm during the winter months. Options include electric or gas heaters, wood stoves, or pellet stoves.
Protect pipes: Pipes are vulnerable to freezing in the winter, so make sure to wrap them with insulation or heat tape to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Stock up on winter supplies: Make sure you have enough firewood, blankets, warm clothing, and non-perishable food, water, and medications in case of a winter storm or power outage. You may also need rock salts or other ice melting products to keep walkways from becoming dangerously slippery.
Clear snow and ice: Keep your cottage safe by regularly clearing snow and ice from walkways, driveways, and roofs. This will prevent accidents and damage to the cottage. Don’t try to clear the snow when it is still snowing or if the snow is wet and heavy. It is best to wait for the snow to stop falling and for the snow to become dry and powdery.
Check your roof: Make sure that your roof is in good condition and can withstand the weight of snow and ice. Look for any missing, loose, or damaged shingles on the roof. Check the flashing around chimneys, skylights, and other roof penetrations for any signs of damage or deterioration. You should also inspect the gutters and downspouts for any blockages or damage. If you are not comfortable climbing onto your roof to perform an inspection, you can hire a professional roofing contractor to do it for you. They will be able to identify any problems and recommend any necessary repairs.
Now for the Fun Stuff
You’ve taken care of all the important stuff so now it’s time to focus on the fun! There’s so many fun activities you can take part in when you’re out at the cabin. Here is just a few:
Snowshoeing: Start by dressing in warm layers and waterproof clothing. Snowshoes come in different sizes so make sure you get the right size for your weight and the type of terrain you plant to trek through. Adjust the binding on your snowshoes to fit your boots snugly. Then you can go explore the nearby trails or create your own path through the snowy woods. If you encounter steep hills or deep powder, use a zig-zag pattern to help you climb. To descend a hill, lean forward slightly and take small steps. When you are finished snowshoeing, take off your snowshoes and dry them off before storing them to prevent rusting.
Ice fishing: If you don’t already have one, rent a small fishing hut and spend the day on the frozen lake trying to catch your dinner. If you don’t have or want a hut, you can just bundle up around a hole in the ice. Don’t forget to bring an extra hat, gloves, and socks just in case you get wet. It’s important to note that you will need an ice auger or chisel to make a hole in the ice. Make sure you pick a sport where the ice is more than thick enough to carry your weight and more!
Cross-country skiing: Get out your skis and glide through the beautiful winter landscape. All you need is a pair of cross country skis, boots, and poles. It’s easy enough to rent a pair if you don’t already own them. Once you’re ready to go, start by learning the “snowplow” position, which involves keeping your skis close together and pointed outward to help you slow down and turn. Practice sliding your skis side to side and lifting them up to move forward. Just start slow if you’re new to it and increase your speed once you’re more comfortable.
Ice skating: If the lake or nearby pond is frozen, lace up your skates and glide around for some fun exercise. Just make sure you are positive the ice is thick enough to support your weight.
Tobogganing: A classic way to spend the day! Find a hill nearby and grab a toboggan or sled for a fun and thrilling ride.
Building a snowman: Get creative and build a unique snowman. Or have everyone build one and hold a contest afterwards! If that’s too much work, you can always just have a good, old fashioned snowball fight.
Winter bonfire: Everyone enjoys a good bonfire! Start by gathering materials such as dry wood and some sort of fire starter. Then, clear a spot and make sure to remove any snow and ice from the area. Build a base by arranging small sticks into the shape of a teepee. If it’s windy, you may have to build a windbreak using sticks and branches. Once you have the fire going, just gather around it to roast marshmallows and tell stories. Don’t forget to break out the smores and the hotdogs too. Nothing better!
Board games: On those days where you don’t want to bundle up and go outside, you can stay warm and cozy inside by playing some board games! Click here for a list of the top 25 family board games right now.
All in all, we hope you take advantage of all the fun you can have during the winter months, out at your Muskoka Cottage! Cottage’s are often seen as a summer getaway but they can be just as fun when the weather turns cold! As long as you take care of all the important stuff, you won’t have to worry in the long run. Just spend your days relaxing by the fire and making memories with your friends and family!
And feel free to reach out to us with any questions you might have regarding your cottage lighting. As a company who specializes in Muskoka landscapes, we would love to enhance your landscaping and outdoor living space!