Like it or not, fall weather will soon be on its way! As the weather gets cooler, you might be looking forward to a break in yard work. But before you hunker down and hibernate for the winter (which will also be here before we know it, yikes!), take some time to clean and prune your lawn and landscaping to pay off big in spring and summer.
Keep Leaves Clear
A carpet of pretty autumn leaves may look nice (and who doesn’t love to jump into a big pile of them?), but they’re not great for grass. Leaves block the light and trap moisture, which could be potentially fatal to the lawn underneath. When the leaves start falling, rake or blow or rake them away as often as you can. Then once the trees are bare, give the yard another good raking or two to get any leaves trapped in corners – otherwise the grass will be dead or dying come spring.
Mow & Fertilize
As long as the grass is growing, you’ll want to keep mowing your lawn once a week or so. (Bonus tip for leaves – if your mower has a mulching mode, use it to chop grass and leaves more finely and save time raking!). Fall is the perfect time to fertilize your yard as it helps keep your lawn healthy and cuts down on the time it’s brown and ugly. If fertilizing, do it twice – once after Labor Day, and the second time around your last mow of the year.
Most people tend to let up on watering their grass in the fall as the weather gets cooler, assuming that there’s more rain and dew at this time of year. But if your yard isn’t getting at least an inch of water a week, it might not be getting enough to keep grass roots hydrated and healthy going into the winter. If there’s a dry spout, keep the sprinklers or irrigation going until around the end of October (and then make sure to disconnect hoses and flush the irrigation system to avoid frozen pipes and spigots).
Lawn looking a little sparse? Want good protection against weeds? Overseed existing turf in the fall to fill in thin spots or bare patches, as well as build up resilient grasses. Fall is the best time to overseed because the ground is still warm, there’s more moisture, and there isn’t as much sun beating down during the day. But the task can be a tricky one, so read up on best practices – or enlist the help of a lawn care professional.
Take Care of Beds
Plants done for the year? Now is the time to clean out and weed your garden and landscaping areas – and you’ll want to do it while the ground is still warm. Taking time to turn the soil now will save on labor in the spring. Then for beds, finish up with a layer of fertilizer or manure.
After fertilizing, lay a layer of leaves or straw on your beds and mulch around trees and shrubs. Now’s even a great time to plant spring-blooming plants, trees, shrubs and vines. (Just make sure to lay more mulch after the soil freezes to prevent the soil around plants from thawing and refreezing.) And don’t forget to water! Help your plants and trees enter colder months with enough moisture to keep them happy.
Trim & Shape
For unruly-looking plants and trees, fall is a great time to trim and shape them up before it gets too cold to be outside. Prune lightly now for minimal shaping, which will set you up for prime trimming time: late winter to early summer.
Clean & Prep Tools
When yard work time is over, don’t forget the final step – cleaning up your tools! Disconnect outdoor hoses, roll them up and store them away to prevent freezing. Clean, sharpen and oil your garden tools in preparation for spring, and clean and service mowers and weed eaters. You’ll be grateful you did when the weather gets warm again!