Ahhh October. Football, pumpkin spice lattes, and the much-anticipated return of cooler weather. For many homeowners, fall is also the time to get the lawn ready for winter. Don’t worry if you aren’t a big fan of yard work. Taking a few simple steps now can pay off with a beautiful, lush yard in the spring.
Slow Your Mow
Continue mowing and watering throughout the fall, typically every 10-14 days until all the leaves have fallen. Leaving the grass at an appropriate length allows it to protect itself from cold and fungus during the winter months.
Fertilize For Future Growth
If you do not fertilize your yard throughout the year, consider a one-time fall application. Although grass grows more slowly as the temperature drops, the grass roots and rhizomes just beneath the soil’s surface continue to grow quickly. Fertilizing in the fall provides essential nutrients for deep root growth and a healthy start next spring.
To DIY, in mid-to-late fall, apply a dry lawn fertilizer to all grassy areas. Be sure to provide consistent coverage with a crank-style spreader or for optimal coverage, use a walk-behind drop spreader.
Rake And Repeat
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, leaves are one of the first signs of fall and a sure sign that there is work to be done in your yard. Although time-consuming, removing leaf litter is necessary to get your lawn ready for winter. If left to decay, the dead leaves can smother the grass, creating bald spots and preventing healthy off-season growth.
Mulching leaves, usually with a mower, is the easiest way to dispose of them, advises Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Purdue University. “Tree leaves can be mulched without any detrimental effects on the soil or turf and usually result in improvements in soil structure. Regular mowing during the fall will chop the leaves into small pieces allowing them to filter into the grass.” Additional benefits of mulching, highlights Patton, are disposing of the leaves without filling up landfills and saving municipalities thousands of dollars in disposal costs.
If you prefer to rake, be sure to invest in a quality rake and do it when the leaves are dry. Moisture can cause the leaves to stick together forming a leaf layer that will suffocate the lawn and serve as a breeding ground for fungal diseases, thus making your job more difficult in the process.
Don’t Be So Weedy
Fall is the ideal time to treat your lawn for weeds. Weeds are gearing up for winter, absorbing all the sunlight, water, and nutrients they can to survive the colder months. Take advantage of this susceptible time by applying a weed killer in the fall for a relatively weed-free lawn in the spring.
Protect Your Perennials
Perennials are the crown jewel of many landscape designs so taking a few steps in the fall will ensure a beautiful display in the spring and summer months. Removing old stalks and leaves will tidy up the bed and save you from doing it in the spring. In addition, adding mulch to the bed will help insulate the roots providing protection from the cold.
Now Is The Time For Bulb Planting
Fall is the time to get bulbs in the ground so their desirable color can be on full display in spring and summer. For successful planting, be sure to plant the bulb 2 to 3 times deeper than the height of the bulb with the pointy side facing up, if applicable. To protect from weeds and pesky bulb-loving animals, spread a layer of mulch over the planted bulbs for added security.
Freshen Up Outdoor Gathering Spots
Outdoor gatherings are always in season but even more so in 2020. In addition to the usual benefits nature can provide, socializing in an open area allows for increased airflow and more space for people to spread out. A few simple steps can go a long way in creating an inviting outdoor space. Freshen up the patio furniture with a quick wipe down or change out cushions if they are worn. Grab some outdoor solar lights to add mood lighting to any space. And to keep the party going well into winter, consider purchasing an outdoor heater which will keep you and your guests comfortable, no matter how low the temperature gets.