The cooler days of fall signal the time to clean up the yard and vegetable garden and prepare for winter. Don’t despair over the fall lawn and garden chores, the cooler weather makes the work easier.
Outside your home, the obvious task is to rake leaves off the lawn, and clean them out of gutters. With kids around, raking leaves can be an all-hands-on-deck activity. You can also collect leaves by using a mower with a bagging attachment. After raking, add the bagged leaves to the compost pile.
You can mulch leaves on the lawn by taking the grass catcher off your mower and mowing over the leaves until they are dime-size pieces. You’re done when a half inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Once the leaf bits settle in, microbes and worms get to work recycling them.
If you don’t have a compost pile, bag the leaves for your municipality, and let your gardening neighbors know that you have free leaves. Gardeners appreciate the ingredients for premium compost! When used as mulch, leaves provide great insulation and valuable nutrients.
More Tips for Fall Garden Clean Up
1. Lawn Care
Cut your lawn one last time before the winter. Trim it as short as possible to prevent matting, disease and rodent damage. Finish by prepping your mower for winter. Change the oil, inspect the spark plug and run the mower until it’s out of gas.
It’s also time to aerate and reseed the lawn. Generally, you will use three pounds of seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.
2. Refresh Mulch
Garden beds typically need a round of new mulch every three years. Simply “fluffing up” mulch gives garden beds a fresh look, allows water to reach plants’ roots more easily and reduces insects and diseases. If adding new mulch, be sure your new layer is between two and three inches thick.
Give your mulch a fresh look with mulch colorant.
3. Hardscape TLC
Your landscape’s curb appeal includes driveway and walkways. Rent a pressure washer from The Home Depot Tool Rental Center and blast accumulated dirt and grime from surfaces. When the surface is clean, it’s time to fill in cracks and apply a sealant to help prevent damage from freezing and thawing water in winter.
4. Clean and Store Garden Tools
Proper cleaning and storage of lawn and garden tools, sprinklers and hoses will prolong their life and make yours easier come spring. Don’t forget to empty and clean irrigation lines so they don’t freeze and damage pipes.
5. Remember the Birds
One of the best ways to enjoy wildlife in winter is to watch birds at a feeder. You’ll be amazed at the varieties that visit throughout the year. Place feeders in a safe location where you can see them.
6. Divide Perennials
In the flower garden, now is the time to divide perennials like hostas, heucheras and daylilies. Wait until after a rain, when the soil is workable, and use a garden fork and spade to split plants and replant them. Learn how to divide perennials.
Tip: A sturdy serrated bread knife makes easy work of slicing into tough plants. Buy an inexpensive one just for garden use.
7. Think of Spring
You can get a jump on spring blooms when you prepare a flower bed with seeds that will overwinter. Try calendula, cornflowers, cosmos and bachelor buttons. Learn more about planting seeds in fall for spring blooms.
8. The No Clean Up Fall Cleanup
Fall is a busy time and you may not get around to all the chores. Weekends quickly fill up with sports and errands. And beautiful fall weather means road trips for fall leaf peeping. If you don’t get around to all the fall chores, take heart. Sometimes, waiting until late winter or early spring is better.
For example, when perennials drop their leaves and die back, don’t rush in to prune back the bare stalks. Decaying brush provides perching places for birds and nooks for beneficial insects to lay their eggs. So clean and store your tools, keep the homeowner’s association happy with leaf removal, but consider ways to keep your landscape more natural for winter wildlife.