It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school. The leaves are starting to change, and with that change comes the dreaded fall cleanup. You reminisce about the fun you had as a kid jumping into a freshly-raked pile of leaves. When did playtime become work? It’s not all bad, though. Fall is easily my favorite season; the temperatures cool down just enough to sport my favorite sweatshirt and break out the winter wardrobe. The various scents of classic fall foods and desserts fill the air. And don’t forget to make time to go to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch. These things will all come in due time, and completing your annual fall garden cleanup will make it worth the wait. Check out our Fall Yard Maintenance and Cleanup checklist:
- Water – Make sure all your plants are well-hydrated, as their roots require a higher moisture content to survive the impending cold winter months.
- Lay Seed – You should lay grass seed early in the fall season so that come springtime, the grass will grow and show greener, earlier.
- One Last Mow-Around – Mow your lawn one last time and at a shorter length. This way, leaves won’t get stuck on the tall blades of grass, which adds to the cleanup. Be careful not to cut it too short, as grass produces most of its food toward the top of the blade.
- Rake the Leaves – This should be a no-brainer for most everyone. Deciduous trees lose their leaves as winter gets closer. Rake the fallen leaves onto a tarp to make transporting them easier. You can also use fallen leaves as compost; be sure to aerate them weekly by tossing them around the compost bin with a small rake. By springtime, your compost pile will be ready to nourish your lawn, garden, and other plantings.
- Plant Evergreens and New Shrubs – Planting shrubs early in fall encourages roots to grow in the cooler soil.
- Just a Trim – Dead tree limbs can pose a threat if they experience heavy snowfall. For bigger branches, you would do well to call a professional, but you can easily remove smaller dead limbs yourself using a garden trimmer or shears. Be sure to cut close to the trunk, but not at the trunk. You should leave the wounds to heal in the open air.
- Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter – Don’t put off cleaning your gutters. With the start of the fall season, leaves are beginning to change color and fall from the branches. While most leaves may land somewhere on the ground, there are those pesky few that get trapped in your gutters. Gutters direct rainwater off your roof and onto the ground, and they can’t function properly if leaves are causing a serious blockage.If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, about once a month, then your home may be subject to rot, issues with foundation, and even pests. While it may seem unimportant and something that is easily overlooked, cleaning your gutters should be a priority.
- Empty Hoses and Turn Off Outside Water – As you may remember from science class, water expands as it freezes. Be sure to turn off the external water valve inside your house. This will keep your pipes from freezing and possibly bursting. You should also remove and dry out your hoses and store them for winter.
With the fall season in full swing, it’s a good idea to start checking these tasks off early. Don’t wait until the last few weekends of fall when it’s unbearably cold and you’d rather be curled up on the couch or by the fire. Keep up with the yard work. You’ll be glad you did when your plantings bloom and you can enjoy the vast array of colors in the spring.