By the time October rolls around, that burning desire to get outside and garden might be long gone. But mustering up the energy to take on a few more tasks can be well worth your time, as yardwork you do now can make a big difference when the first signs of spring emerge.
Fall gardening projects encompass more than planting bulbs, says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), and include important tasks like mowing, mulching, aerating, trimming and patching bald spots in your yard. “After all, your living landscape does a lot for you,” explains Kiser. “It produces oxygen, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters and captures runoff, improves air quality, controls erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide, and supports biodiversity. You benefit when your yard is in top shape.”
With that in mind, OPEI suggests putting the following on your to-do list this fall.
Mow regularly. Just because you’re not spending as much time hanging out in your yard doesn’t mean your grass can go without mowing. Grass that’s too high may attract hazardous field mice, whereas shorter grass is more resistant to disease and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low also allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter. That said, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest setting for the last two cuts of the season.
Aerate. Compressed soil can have a negative impact on your grass, so be sure to aerate your lawn, which punches holes into the soil, paving the way for a free flow of oxygen, water and nutrients. Try using a walk-behind aerator, or better yet, get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.
Mulch your leaves. Mulching can be simple if you use an attachment that hooks up to your mower. This way, nitrogen-rich grass clippings combine with leaf particles, causing them to compost more quickly. Together, they’ll return important nutrients to the soil.
Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chainsaws or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs and plants, making sure branches are cleared from the vicinity of power lines. You may also need to tie up evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Don’t hesitate to call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.
Patch up bald spots. Fall is a great time to patch bald or thin spots in a lawn. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture, which you can pick up at a garden center or home improvement store. Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.
Throw on an extra layer or two and get out into the brisk autumn air. You’ll thank yourself when you run your toes through your lush green lawn next spring!