Fall Yard Cleanup: 15 Must-Dos for a Tidy Yard

Yard Maintenance

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Autumn is a beautiful time of year, but it can also be a lot of work for homeowners. The leaves are falling, the grass is dying back, and there’s just a lot of general cleaning up to be done.

As a homeowner, you know that one rainstorm on the gathered yard creates a swampy muck that’s much more difficult to clean. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of fall yard cleanup, don’t worry! Here are 15 must-dos that will help you get the job done quickly and efficiently. Let’s get started with your yard magic!

1. Clear out debris

Fallen leaves and weeds aren’t just unsightly; they can create cozy hiding spots for pests during winter months. To keep critters at bay, it’s essential to clear out your flower beds thoroughly. Pay extra attention to rose beds because their dense foliage can encourage disease over the winter. 

2. Tidy up the vegetable garden

After your final harvest, it’s time to prepare your vegetable garden for the cold season. Remove old vegetable plants and any debris left behind. If you’re into composting, now is the perfect time to enrich your soil. A layer of compost will work wonders in replenishing the nutrients that were used up during the growing season, setting the stage for a bountiful spring garden.

3. Trim those rogue branches

Dead, damaged, or diseased branches on your trees and shrubs can become hazardous during winter storms. Make sure to trim them away to prevent accidents. Additionally, prune any branches that may pose a risk during heavy snowfall. Proper pruning not only enhances safety but also promotes healthier growth.

Lawn Care

4. Clean out the gutters

Cleaning your gutters is crucial to prevent water damage to your home. Leaves and debris can clog your gutters, causing water to overflow and potentially damage your roof and foundation. Use a small garden trowel to scoop out the gunk, and don’t forget to rinse everything clean with a hose. Proper drainage ensures water flows away from your home.

5. Say goodbye to standing water

Water left in hoses, fountains, and irrigation systems can freeze during winter, potentially causing damage. Drain these systems thoroughly and store them in a dry place to prevent any winter woes. A little preparation now can save you costly repairs later.

6. Give your lawn some air

Aerating your lawn is like giving it a breath of fresh air. Breaking up compacted soil allows water to drain properly, preventing puddles and ensuring that essential nutrients reach the roots during winter. For small yards, a garden fork will do the trick, while larger yards may benefit from a rented walk-behind aerator.

7. Feed your lawn

Your lawn needs a hearty meal before hibernation. Use a fall lawn fertilizer with high phosphorus content. Phosphorus encourages root growth, ensuring your lawn emerges lush and green when spring arrives. A well-fed lawn is a happy lawn!

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8. Don’t let leaves win

Leaves left unattended can smother your grass and create an ideal habitat for pests. Rake them up, but don’t just toss them away. Shred the leaves and use them as mulch for young trees, shrubs, and flower beds. This mulch provides a nutrient boost, helps control weeds, and keeps the soil temperature regulated.

9. Trim trees and shrubs

Pruning your trees and shrubs serves multiple purposes. Removing dead branches improves the overall health of the plant while cutting back overgrown areas prevents them from becoming problematic in the winter. Be cautious not to prune spring-blooming perennials like lilacs or forsythias; these should be left for spring pruning to protect their blooming potential.

10. One last mow

Before winter sets in, give your lawn a final trim. Lower the mower to its lowest setting to ensure the soil dries quickly in the spring. This simple step can help you achieve a greener, healthier lawn when warmer weather returns.

11. Share the perennial love

If your perennials have thrived during the year, it’s a great opportunity to divide and conquer. Divide these plants and transplant them to other garden beds where they can flourish. This not only saves you money but also promotes healthier growth in your garden. Keep in mind that fall-blooming perennials should be left alone until spring.

12. Protect the cold-sensitive ones

Some plants can’t handle the cold, and that’s where your TLC comes in. Add a layer of mulch at the base and wrap sensitive perennials, shrubs, and roses in cloth barriers. The protection prevents freezing and ensures they’ll greet spring in good health. Customize the covering based on your climate and the hardiness of the plants.

13. Plant away

Fall isn’t just a time for cleanup; it’s also a great time for planting. Introduce new shrubs, spring bulbs like hyacinths, or fall annuals like pansies to add color and variety to your yard. These plants will establish themselves over the winter, ready to bloom in the spring.

14. Deck care

Your deck needs some attention, too. A thorough power wash will remove dirt, grime, and potential mold or mildew. Renting a pressure washer from a garden store can make this job a breeze. After cleaning, apply a weatherproofing stain to protect the wood from moisture damage during winter.

15. Show your tools some love

Don’t forget about your trusty gardening tools! Give them a good cleaning to remove dirt and rust, and add a light coat of oil, like linseed or vegetable oil. This simple maintenance ensures your tools will be ready for action when spring rolls around.

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