Just because the weather is turning cooler doesn’t mean your work outside is done! Here are a few things you need to do to get your yard ready for fall, and ensure a great lawn and garden next year, too.
Fall is nearly here. You can smell it, feel the crispness of the air in the early mornings, see the beginnings of leaves changing color and the end of the rapid, lush growth of spring and summer. For many people, this is a favorite time of year, when the weather starts to get cooler but hasn’t yet gotten cold and wet.
Just because the most rapid part of the growing season is over doesn’t mean your work outside is done, however! There is a lot left to do if you want to properly prepare your yard for fall and, eventually, winter. Here are a few things that still need to be done.
- Check all landscape lights and other outdoor lighting. All of your outdoor lighting should be checked both spring and fall to make sure it’s in good working order and won’t be susceptible to moisture damage, especially in the wet winter months. Replace bulbs as needed, and be sure that your wiring is in good shape and well protected from the elements.
- Fertilize, aerate, and seed your lawn. Many people assume that just because the days are cooler and the flowers are no longer blooming, the time to do yard maintenance is over. Actually, the opposite is true. Fertilizing and aerating your lawn in the fall helps it to recover after the scorching heat of summer. Seeding in the fall also helps to fill in bare patches, because the grass can grow undisturbed by weeds.
- Mow to 2 or 2 1/2 inches, as needed. You will also need to continue mowing your lawn throughout the fall, until the grass totally stops growing. Between 2 and 2 1/2 inches is a good length. Long grass plus snow for a roof makes a perfect home for mice, so keeping your lawn short will help prevent animals from tearing it up during the winter!
- Winterize your garden. Now is the time to start getting your soil ready for next year’s garden. Fall is a good time to rototill the soil and spread mulch to protect your garden during the cold months. You can also spread compost to help rejuvenate the soil.
- Winterize trees and shrubs. You actually want to stop watering trees and larger shrubs in the fall, as the tapering off of their water supply will help them to lose their leaves and prepare for winter. Once all the leaves have fallen, deep watering (where you water the base for a long time with a steady trickle or slow flow that will sink deep into the roots) will ensure your trees and bushes have plenty of water throughout the winter months.
- Rake up fallen leaves and sweep porches and patios regularly. Don’t wait for the leaves to finish falling before you rake them up! Getting the leaves off the lawn quickly helps your grass to grow its best. Sweeping porches, patios, and walks clear of leaves regularly will help maintain your outdoor space as a comfortable place to spend your spare time, all season long.
I know after a long hot summer, it is probably pretty tempting to put away the lawn tools and just forget about doing any more work outside. But what you do now will not only allow you to continue enjoying your outdoor space throughout the fall, it will also help you prepare for next year, and ensure a better yard and garden in the spring.
Shelly Towns is a mother of two and a freelance writer for an outdoor garden lighting company. She also loves to redesign and decorate homes in her free time.