The mild temperatures and lower humidity of fall make it the perfect time to prepare your yard for winter. Follow our simple fall yard work checklist and have your lawn and garden ready to go for winter.
Your 8-point Fall Yard Work Checklist
1. Aerate and fertilize the lawn
Is your grass looking worse for wear? Does water pool on its surface? Then it is time to aerate your lawn. Choose a mechanical core aerator. The tines on this type of machine are hollow on the inside, and they pull soil cores out of the earth. You can rent core aerators from most garden centers. Note: soil cores can be raked up and composted, or simply left to breakdown over a few weeks.
Next, fertilize your lawn. Doing this after aeration is great because the loosened soil allows more of the fertilizer to get to the roots. Choose a fall lawn fertilizer and your grass will be ready for our long Great Lakes winter.
2. Last mow of the season
With your grass aerated and fertilized it is almost ready for a long winter’s nap. However, first, it needs its last mow of the season. For this, you’ll need to set your mower to the lowest height for your grass type. This prevents fungal disease on your lawn. So, when the grass stops growing – once daytime temperatures are below 50F – use sharp blades and make it short.
3. Prune trees and shrubs
Next up, pruning. While late-winter pruning is best for some trees and shrubs, it is never too early to remove dead branches and suckers. Likewise, now is a great time to trim and train clematis and roses. If you have pruning to do, you might like our Guide to Pruning.
4. Split, prune and mulch perennials
How to Divide Perennials
After a summer’s growth, some of your perennials might be ready for division. Regularly splitting your perennials reduces over-crowding, increases airflow and ensures all your plants get the water and nutrients they need. Early autumn is the perfect time to divide perennials, as the cooler temperatures cause less stress to divided plants. While a guide to dividing perennials can give you detailed directions, the basics are pretty easy to master.
First, gently dig up the whole plant. Second, place the plant on a gardening table or tarp in the shade. Now, look carefully at the roots to decide how to pull the plant apart. Some need to be sliced through, while others can be gently teased apart. Finally, trim away any dead or damaged leaves and re-plant all divisions as soon as possible. Many perennials benefit from dividing every few years, and it is a great way to fill-out your garden without spending a penny.
Pruning and Mulching Perennial Beds
Once you’ve divided over-grown perennials, you’re ready to prune and mulch your flower bed. Though some perennials enjoy pruning during the growing season, most are best trimmed in the spring or fall. As with pruning conifers, use sharp clean tools to prune your perennials.
Finally, prepare your garden bed for the winter with a nice layer of mulch. There are a number of possible mulches. From fallen leaves to bark chips, grass clippings to compost, there’s something that will work for you. By adding mulch to you perennial beds, you protect your plants from our long Western NY winters while also enriching your soil.
5. Plant spring bulbs
While preparing your perennial garden for winter dormancy, it is also time to think about spring blooms. Fall is the time to plant spring bulbs. Particularly in places like our region of NY, where the winters are so long, it is nice to have those daffodils and crocus waiting for us after the thaw.
6. Transplant shrubs and perennials
Likewise, fall is the time to move shrubs or perennials to new locations. This might be as part of dividing your perennials or simply as a way to put plants in a new place where they might grow better. On the one hand, the cooler temperatures of fall put less stress on moved plants. On the other hand, Newly moved plants benefit from spring rains as they come out of dormancy in their new spots.
7. Prepare irrigation systems for winter
Don’t wait for a burst pipe to remind you to disconnect your hoses. Instead, get out there before the freeze. Then, disconnect hoses, roll them up and store with your sprinklers and wands. Also, consider insulating any exposed pipes and exterior faucets and/or shutting off and draining exterior pipes.
8. Clean and service tools
While you’re at it, it is time to clean and service your gardening tools. So, before the next growing season, clean, sharpen and oil your hand tools. Likewise, clean and service mowers, tillers and strimmers. This way, you’re ready to rock come spring.
Looking for Tree Services this Autumn?
If part of your fall yard work checklist is dealing with dead or dying trees, let Arbor Tree Experts know. Established in Webster in 1985 we are a fully licensed and insured tree service in Webster. Our team includes ISA certified Webster arborists working to ANSI standards. We offer tree removal as well as stump grinding and pruning. Likewise, we can help you choose the best trees for your unique landscape. Contact us for a quote.