Guest post written by Clara Beaufort
While it’s easy to forget about your lawn and garden when you’re ready to hibernate for the
season, skipping out on fall maintenance can have a damaging effect on your summer
landscape. Here are a few tips to keep your lawn looking lush and your garden grand until the
buds begin to bloom.
Utilize native plants.
There are a number of benefits to utilizing native plants in your landscape. First, they are ideally suited to your climate and nutrient levels of the soil. Second, and perhaps more importantly, native plants typically won’t overtake other varieties as some
invasive, non-native varieties can.
Rake and compost organic matter.
This fall, skip bagging leaves and consider composting. Pound for pound, leaves contain more than two times the amount of nutrients as manure-based mulch. Not all leaves are created equal, however, as Planet Natural explains, “the leaves of the eastern Hemlock have twice as much nitrogen as the leaves of the red Maple… Some leaves aren’t suitable at all for composting…”
Don’t forget your hardscape.
Your hardscape includes things such as the walkway, ponds and fountains, and retaining walls. Check these items for damage and repair any issues before winter sets in and ice has the opportunity to cause further harm. Water-based features (irrigation system, pond, fountain) should be drained once nighttime temperatures reach 32°.
The final countdown.
With the end of growing season in sight, plan to lower your mower blades to the shortest recommended setting for your particular type of grass. Today’s homeowner report that this will prevent top growth from bending under the weight of rain, sleet, and snow, which can trap moisture and perpetuate fast-spreading fungal diseases. This is especially important if you live in a higher elevation, where snow can linger well into early summer.
Aerate and seed.
Fall is the perfect time to get your lawn ready for spring. Start by aerating the top layer then spread grass seed in bare spots or locations where thicker grass would enhance curb appeal. Cooler temps now can seeds help retain moisture so your grass will be greener on the other side of winter.
Fall is the perfect time to plan ahead for larger projects that you’d like to tackle come spring. For instance, if you want to add a vegetable garden next year, go ahead and till your plot and plant a few cover crops now to enrich the soil for a more bountiful harvest. HomeAdvisor warns us not to forgo pruning “in order to improve the production of both fruit trees and rose bushes”. Overgrown bushes and non-fruit trees should also be cut back before they start to grow again. Lastly, prep for shoveling snow by trimming overhanging bushes so that shoveling is less of a chore further into the season.
Divide and conquer.
A number of summer bulbs can be successfully divided in the fall. Simply dig, divide, and store in a climate -controlled area in sand or peat moss until it’s time to replant. Ultimately, the beauty of your summer landscape depends on how well you care for your lawn throughout the winter. So take the time to perform these simple maintenance tasks. You’ll save money in the long run and your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood.