Fall Clean-Up Checklist: Steps to Prep Your Yard
A Fall Clean-Up is the systematic collection and removal of any leaves, sticks, or debris that have gathered on your property. Fall lawn maintenance doesn’t have to be tough, but it can differentiate between a lush green lawn and a spotty brown one in the spring. A comprehensive fall clean-up will lead to a more productive growing season and greener grass the following year. Cleaning up your yard in the fall can make a huge difference in how long your garden lasts through the winter.
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This checklist of basic fall lawn care activities will ensure that you start the following spring with beautiful, healthy grass.
1. Debris should be Removed
Mice and groundhogs can find a safe home in organic waste such as leaves and weeds. Rake periodically, when your trees lose their leaves, remove them and other debris that may suffocate the grass and prevent it from growing. Excessive trash can harm your yard’s drainage, resulting in problems and attracting insects.
How to Get Rid of Leaves in the Yard
Use Tarp: Rake all of your leaves onto a tarp for holding them to the curb or compost heap quickly.
Rake those Leaves into Rows: It’s better to rake your leaves into rows rather than just to pile up if you’re going to bag them. The leaves can be divided into more manageable halves at the end of the row.
Use Falling Leaves as Lawn Fertilizer: Shred the falling leaves into tiny flakes with your lawnmower before the snow begins to fall. When they settle into the autumn grass, they’ll decompose into a natural fertilizer.
2. Clean up the Veggie Garden
You should start preparing your veggie garden for winter once the first frost has killed off the majority of the annual plants. However, if you discover plants that are dying or no longer producing a crop, you can start cleaning up your fall garden earlier.
While preparing a veggie garden for fall, remove any items used to support your plants, such as bean stakes, tomato cages, or trellises. Wipe off all of these objects or use a two-to-one solution of water and bleach to clean them. This procedure will kill any infections that may have been left on the supports.
Step two in the garden cleaning process is to get rid of any dead plants. Dead plants, rotting fruit and vegetables, and any unhealthy plants should be removed from the garden beds and disposed of. If the waste plant material is in good condition, composting is an alternative. If the plant material showed any signs of disease, it should be discarded or destroyed. If you compost diseased plant waste, you risk infecting your garden with the same disease the next year.
Another step in preparing a vegetable garden for winter is to spread compost, composted manure, or other nutrients onto the vegetable beds. You can also use this opportunity to plant a winter cover crop like buckwheat, clover or rye.
To protect the soil, apply 3 to 6 inches of organic mulch or compost to the ground to offer food for the soil’s microorganisms. Shredded leaves or clean straw devoid of seed heads or weeds can be used to cover your vegetable garden or beds. Throughout the winter, this chemical will remain on the soil’s surface, where bacteria will break it down.
In the fall, it’s a great time to start a new planting bed. Scalp the grass with your mower on the lowest setting possible, then cover it with a thick layer of newspaper. Add a layer of compost to the papers and stacks of cut leaves on top. In the spring, you’ll have a tremendous new planting bed full of worms.
3. Gutters must be cleaned
The fall is the most crucial time of year to clean your gutters. During this time, the majority of the leaves and other debris falls, clogging your gutter system.
It’s no secret that trees lose all of their leaves in the fall. Many people are unaware that if your gutter system and, subsequently, your property are not cleaned up each year, the leaves can cause significant harm. Larger debris, such as leaves, clog your gutter system, preventing water from draining properly.
The key to fall gutter cleaning is to wait until the last leaf has fallen before cleaning them before it snows and freezes. Clogged downspouts prevent melted water from draining when it snows or ices, generating dozens of new problems.
The fastest way to know if it’s time to clean the gutters is to look up and see if there are piles of leaves in the gutters or along the roof edge. If your gutters are clogged with leaves, it’s time to clean them out.
Rain gutters minimize foundation damage and preserve your home’s vegetation and exterior from high drainage. Water can leak under the roof and eventually into the foundation if gutters become blocked with leaves, sticks, and other debris. Ice dams can form when gutters become clogged in the winter. That’s why it’s so important to clean up your gutters, especially in the fall.
If you maintain your gutters properly, they can endure up to 30 years. If you are comfortable on a ladder and your gutters are easy to reach, cleaning out your gutters is a task to complete every fall.
Your safety is the most important aspect of inspecting and cleaning your gutters. Make sure your ladder is solid and not resting against any dangling gutters. The ladder should be footed, which means another person should hold it firmly, or something heavy should be placed behind the bottom to keep it from slipping.
Remove the junk from the gutters with a bit of plastic scoop. Gutter scoops are available at hardware stores, but you can also use a child’s sandbox shovel. You may also use an old plastic frying spatula to clean the gutters without damaging them.
To collect gutter debris and preserve your lawn and garden, place a tarp beneath your workbench.
After the debris has been removed from the gutters, use a garden hose to flush the gutters and downspouts to remove any remaining residue. This will also disclose whether or not there are any leaks in your system.
If you find a leak or a minor hole, you can generally fix it yourself. For less than $10, a tube of caulk can be used to seal leaking joints and tiny holes.
A spike is fixed into the fascia board at 2-foot intervals in most gutters (a piece of wood that stands behind the gutters). With time, gutters drift away from the fascia board, increasing the danger of leaking. Tap the spikes back into the wood with a tiny hammer, so the gutters are snug against your house.
4. Aerate the Soil
Aeration is a procedure in which hundreds of little plugs of soil are removed from your lawn. Through the holes created, water, nutrients, and oxygen can penetrate deep into the roots of your grass, resulting in a healthier, stronger lawn.
When the sun shines down on your lawn, the soil compacts, making it difficult for the roots of your grass to obtain the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Water merely glides over the surface of compacted soil rather than being absorbed. Aeration allows your lawn to breathe again by loosening the soil.
The lawns that need the most aeration are those with green grass that is starting to turn brown. Aeration is beneficial to all lawns, not just those that have been injured by the summer sun. If your grass hasn’t wilted yet this summer, the roots may not be strong enough to survive the winter.
September and October are the best months to aerate your soil. Aerating your lawn in the fall can help its roots recover from a hot summer and prepare for a prosperous spring.
Soil aeration allows crop roots and earth microorganisms to breathe by supplying oxygen to the topsoil. Aeration softens and improves the topsoil’s infiltration properties. It is carried out in a variety of ways, each of which is depending on the size of the territory and the land’s characteristics.
In fact, the most severe method suggests removing and replacing the land cover. It is not always practical, though, particularly when considering the costs and work involved. Aeration of the soil is a far preferable solution. In this case, spike, plug (core), and liquid aeration are all conventional treatments.
Spike Aeration:- The spike aeration method causes the least amount of land disturbance by producing holes for air to pass through. However, it only covers a small area due to the limited coverage of relevant instruments such as soil aeration shoes, prongs, rollers, and mower attachments. Spikes pierce the dirt on all of them. In the first three options, walking or manual activities such as pushing or rolling are implied. On the one hand, they are the least sophisticated, however, they require a lot of physical strength. Mower attachments require less human effort because they are machine-adjusted.
Core Aeration:- The core soil aeration method works with “cores” or “plugs,” which is especially helpful in clay soils that are compacted. Cores are made up of clay, roots, thatch, and other components found in the topsoil layer. Rather than piercing the earth’s surface, it advises taking the parts out and leaving them on the surface.
While core aeration makes the field a little dirtier, it has some advantages. Some of the benefits of soil core aeration are as follows:
- Increased gaseous exchange.
- Increased root zone oxygen saturation.
- Increased water infiltration.
- Improved ground structure.
- Organic matter integration.
Liquid Aeration:- While the other methods work directly with the soil, liquid applications work in a different way to help with aeration. Liquid aerators contain a wetting agent as well as food for earth-dwelling biota.
Water penetration is aided by wetting agents, which allow water to permeate deeper into the soil profile. It can also be used by microorganisms to delve deeper. Digging enhances soil aeration and helps water to penetrate deeper into the soil, which encourages root development.
Furthermore, liquid aerators feed bacteria with food (usually seaweed extract) to help them grow and multiply. Worms that move underground and add to the earth’s porosity profit as a result of this. It permits air and water to go further through the established “ways.” By decomposing organic detritus, worms and insects also contribute to improving soil fertility.
5. Feed the Grass
When the fall season arrives, the cooler air restricts plant development. The grass is no different. Roots remain active below ground because soil temperatures are warmer than air temperatures. Green grass blades do photosynthesis above ground, converting sunlight into plant nutrition that is transmitted from leaves to roots and stored for future use (like in spring).
Fall fertilization helps this process by nourishing roots, letting them grow and develop deeper and wider. Healthy grass roots promote a quicker spring green-up and a thicker lawn, which helps to keep weeds at bay.
The best and most crucial time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall because:
- In the fall, morning dew delivers moisture to the lawn, which helps fertilizer absorption.
- The grass gets a chance to build up its stamina before a hard winter.
- Encourage root growth in the fall for healthier, greener grass in the spring.
- While fall is an excellent season to care for our lawn, you can help it out by fertilizing it as much as possible.
Apply an autumn lawn fertilizer 2 to 3 weeks before the ground freezes. In general, mid-October is an ideal time to apply lawn fertilizer.
The lawn fertilizer available in your location is usually appropriate for the soil and turf types found there. It’s known as a winterizer fertilizer in colder locations. Most bags include slow-release nitrogen, which means the nutrients are supplied to the grassroots gradually over time. The first number on the fertilizer bag nitrogen (N), followed by zeros or lower values for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), should be greater. For example, it may be 32-0-10 or 10-0-20.
Many homeowners apply dolomitic lime in the fall in places where the soil is acidic. Grassroots will be unable to absorb nutrients if the soil is excessively acidic. The most reliable approach for assessing whether your property needs lime is to do a soil test.
Fertilizer Application Tips:
- Examine the guidelines on the bag:- Even if you’ve used the product before, check the bag for specific timing and application instructions. It’s important to read the label before utilizing materials because they can change to keep up with things like formulation technologies or laws and regulations.
- Wait for the rain:- Fertilizing moist soil is ideal, so wait for good rain and fertilize the next day. If it rains, 24 to 48 hours after fertilizing, your lawn food will wash away before it has a chance to penetrate the soil.
- Select a spreader: Rotary (or broadcast) spreaders are perfect for feeding a large lawn. For smaller lawns or locations where a more targeted application is necessary, use a drop spreader. A handheld spreader is a good choice for tiny lawns.
- Clean the lawn: Remove any leaves or debris that may be obstructing fertilizers from dropping between the grass blades.
- Walk gently and slowly: Regardless of the sort of spreader you choose, walk evenly and gently for the most equal application.
- Excess should be removed: If fertilizer falls on hard surfaces, sweep or blow it over the lawn (driveway, pathways, patio) because some lawn products have the ability to discolor concrete and other hard surfaces.
6. Rake and Mulch the Leaves
Autumn leaves are one of the season’s most beautiful views. Autumn color appears in the form of leaves in your yard. If you want your grass to stay lush and healthy, you can’t ignore falling leaves. This isn’t to say that raking and bagging leaves are the most efficient method of disposal but it’s easier — and better for your grass and the environment — to mulch leaves into your yard.
Whether you mulch or bag leaves, removing them keeps your lawn from becoming suffocated. However, mulching leaves and shredding them into tiny pieces have advantages that raking and bagging do not.
Tree leaves have a nitrogen content of roughly 2%. Your lawn grass requires more nitrogen than any other important plant nutrient to keep itself green, thick, and healthy. The first number in the N-P-K on most lawn fertilizer labels is the largest because of this.
Mulching leaves rather than raking them provides natural fertilizer and valuable organic materials to your grass. Furthermore, mulching leaves into your lawn helps prevent weed seeds from developing and dramatically reduces typical lawn weeds like dandelions and crabgrass. In many circumstances, you can mulch leaves while mowing your lawn.
It is possible to mulch leaves with a normal lawnmower. A mulching mower for mowing leaves into your grass can be a fantastic idea if you have a lot of heavy leaves to deal with in a short amount of time.
A typical lawn mower chops grass blades and discharges them into a bag or out in the side. Similarly, mowing leaves onto lawn grass has the same result. Mulching leaves into little pieces that can filter down to the soil may need a few passes back and forth with a regular lawn mower. Mulching blades are also available for ordinary mowers. These carefully designed mulching blades may reduce the number of passes you need to make across your lawn, depending on the amount of leaves you have to mulch.
A mulching mower, on the other hand, keeps grass clippings — and leaves — under the mower deck. The blades cut the cuttings numerous times, resulting in tiny pieces. Mulching mowers also aid in the long-term sustainability of your grass during regular mowing. Every time you mow, mulch those grass clippings into your lawn which act as an all-natural fertilizer.
Leaf mulchers are available in three different styles: push, pull, and handheld. They’re made for shredding leaves rather than cutting grass. Cordless mulchers that convert leaf blowers to leaf vacuums shred and collect mulched leaves for additional usage are popular types.
When it comes to mulching leaves with a mower, being proactive is the best way to go. Consider mowing leaves rather than raking them as part of your fall lawn upkeep. Begin as soon as the first leaves fall. Mowing a few leaves is easier than mowing a bunch, and dry leaves mulch better than wet ones. When mulching leaves, use your usual mower height.
Mulch with your mower at least once a week — twice if necessary — if leaf falling accelerates. When mulching leaves, set the mower to the highest setting. According to a university study, you may mulch up to 6 inches of leaves on your lawn if you chop them up into small bits. Mulching mowers and leaf mulchers are more efficient at handling bigger leaf quantities.
Look beyond your yard if you’re still confused about whether or not to rake leaves. In addition to aiding healthy soil and grass development, mulching fall leaves provide a number of advantages. Mulched leaves add rich organic material to your compost pile, making it ideal for future gardening. Garden mulch made from shredded leaves helps to reduce soil temperature fluctuations that could injure plant roots. As the leaves decompose, they work as a soil amendment, adding organic matter and improving soil quality.
7. Trees and Shrubs should be Pruned
Flowering shrubs should be pruned soon after bloom, non-blooming shrubs in late winter or early spring (particularly if heavy pruning is required), and all shrubs after mid-August.
There are of course some exceptions. A damaged or diseased area should be clipped as soon as possible. Shrubs prone to ice damage, such as wax myrtle and butterfly bush, can be clipped in late fall or early winter to avoid breakage.
Light thinning or shape can be done at any time, especially in the fall, on shrubs that have developed uneven growth after their prior shaping. This can be seen in a number of shrubs as a result of strong summer growth. These stems protrude from the top of a shrub that is otherwise well-formed, and their growth behavior frequently differs from that of the rest of the shrub.
What to Prune during Fall:
- Trees with dead limbs:
This is especially important in areas with a lot of snow or ice. If you know it’s dead, get it down before the storm hits.
- Rose Shrubs:
Rose pruning is best done when the plants are dormant, which is in the winter or early spring. If you have large or overgrown shrub rose bushes and reside in an area where heavy snows could break the canes, trimming the plant to remove 2 to 4 inches of canes can help protect it. If shrub roses have taken over walkways, remove the canes. Pruning should be done after a series of hard freezes to prevent the new growth of canes.
Some plants send up shoots at and/or around the base of the main plant. A single plant can grow into a colony of suckering bushes. Some examples are sumac, kerria, saucer magnolia, witch hazel, and colorful twig dogwoods. Suckers should be cut as close to the base as feasible and removed as quickly as possible.
- Perennials with Disease Problems:
This list includes disease-prone perennials like bearded iris and hollyhocks, as well as powdery mildew-prone species including peony, bee balm, and garden phlox. Trim stems to 2 to 4 inches in length and remove the prunings (do not compost).
- Slug Prone Plants:
Slugs lay eggs in the fall, so after a few touches of frost knock them back, and remove the stems and leaves of hosta, delphinium, lupine, and any other slug-prone plants. Prunings should not be composted and should be discarded.
What not to Prune during Fall:
- Shrubs and trees which bloom in the spring (things like azalea, lilac, dogwood, loropetalum, viburnum, oakleaf hydrangea).
- Ornamental grasses.
- Perennials that are only moderately hard (plants you aren’t sure will return until new growth appears in the spring).
- Climbing roses.
- Perennials that look good in the winter (tall sedum, baptisia, Siberian iris).
- Perennials with seed heads that attract birds (coneflower, black-eyed Susan, anise hyssop, tall liatris).
8. Mow the Lawn
Enjoy the autumn season by mowing your lawn to prepare it for the winter. In snowy locations, the goal of your last mowing is to keep the grass as short as possible without scalping it. For many turf grasses, this translates to a height of 2 inches. During the fall, progressively lower the mower height until the grass is trimmed to that short length. When mowing, remember not to remove more than one-third of the blade length. If the grass is actively growing, you may need to mow twice a week to reduce the blade height.
Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost, and it will need to be cut on a frequent basis to keep it at an ideal height of 2 to 2.5 inches. Allowing it to grow too long will cause it to mat and become prone to fungus, such as snow mold.
Cutting grass too short affects the root system (root depth is proportional to cutting height) and diminishes the lawn’s ability to withstand cold and drought in the winter. Regular mowing also gets rid of those pesky leaves, breaking them up and replacing them with soil-enriching mulch.
Why Grass should be Cut Short?
- Prevent disease: Snow mold, a fungal disease that can damage grass in the winter, is more susceptible to long grass.
- Deter Voles: Long grass helps in voles because it provides a secure sanctuary for them to hide from predators while eating ready-to-eat grass shoots and roots. If there is no snow cover, voles are less likely to travel into short grass since it provides little protection from cats, hawks, foxes, or owls.
- Reduce winter kill: When there is snow on the ground, long grass is more prone to winter kill. By folding grass blades over the plant’s top, snow can promote fungal disease and decay.
- Quick Green-up: Because short grass does not obscure the soil, sunlight can reach it and warm it more rapidly. As a result, green-up, also known as early growth, begins.
- Comparatively Less Debris: Most leaves skip across short lawns in winter breezes, but tall grass suffocates them.
- Minimal Snow Mold: Snow mold can grow even in regions where there isn’t a lot of snow. Winter rains can matt long grass, allowing this fungus to grow and harm the grass. Short grass blades are unaffected by winter rain and snow.
When to Stop?
It’s time to stop mowing the lawn when the grass stops growing. Depending on the weather, you may need to mow the lawn until December to mulch the leaves. An early snowfall that lasts only a few hours isn’t a sign that you should stop mowing. It all relies on the grass growth and leaf cover on the lawn. Maintaining mowing and mulching leaves until they’re down to around 90% is a good rule of thumb. At that time, take your mower to the shed and give it some post-mowing season.
9. Perennials should be Divided and Pruned
In winter, certain perennials struggle to survive. After the first frost, they lose their attraction, and the cold can lead to reoccurring pest and disease problems. Certain perennials, on the other hand, can benefit from being cut down to shield them from the cold and help them grow stronger in the spring.
Plant division is a seasonal operation, similar to trimming. Spring-blooming plants should be divided in the fall, and fall-blooming plants should be divided in the spring, following the same guidelines. Plant roots, on the other hand, can help you figure out when it’s time to divide them.
Perennials with tuberous bulbs, in general, should be divided in the spring. You can divide plants with fleshy roots in the fall.
The majority of plants don’t need to be divided every year. Some should be divided every few years, while others might last a decade or more before needing to be pruned. It’s also best to divide plants on a cloudy, cool day to prevent them from drying out in the sun.
To divide a plant, thoroughly dig it up. Then brush or shake off as much dirt as you can from the roots. The majority of perennials that divide in the fall may be easily separated. Using your hands or garden forks, separate the plants.
To cut through roots that are tough to break apart, use a spade or a tiny hand saw. Despite the fact that it may appear forceful, separating them in this manner will have no negative impact on the plant. Plant division in the spring necessitates a little more effort.
After you’ve divided them, plant them wherever you like. They can be transplanted or placed in sharing pots. Place them in rich soil and keep them properly watered; you may wish to use soil additives before replanting. Allow at least six weeks for the plants to grow before the first average frost date when dividing plants in the fall.
Peonies, Daylilies, Oriental Poppies, Siberian Iris, Garden phlox, Bleeding Heart, and Veronica are some of the perennials that you can divide in the fall.
10. Plants that are Vulnerable to the Cold should be Protected
The first fall frost is the most concerning for gardeners since it can result in significant crop loss. A garden built with frost in mind can help to limit the amount of cold damage your plants endure. Other strategies to avoid frost damage in the fall include:
- Water the soil thoroughly before the first frost. Water holds heat more effectively than dry soil, insulating roots and warming the air around them. Saturating the earth, on the other hand, might cause the water to freeze and destroy the roots.
- In the fall, the first frost is typically followed by a period of frost-free weather. You might be able to extend your gardening season by covering susceptible flowers and veggies on cold nights.
- In your garden beds, mulch the soil. Mulching with straw, pine needles, and wood chips prevents frost development by retaining heat and moisture.
In the fall, it’s vital to protect delicate plants and to harvest crops before the first frost. When a sliver of frost appears on the horizon:
- Bring houseplants (especially tropicals) and other delicate plants indoors before the first light frost. Keep them in a moist place with a bright window; the kitchen is often the best choice.
- Harvesting basil and other delicate herbs are recommended. Even if they survive the frost, they don’t perform well in the cold. The majority of annuals behave in the same way.
- Harvest tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, beans, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, okra, squash, and sweet corn, among other sensitive veggies and greens. Green tomatoes don’t need light to ripen, and light can actually slow down the process.
To keep the ground from freezing, add a thick layer of mulch around plants that can handle a little frost. You can harvest late into the fall as long as the ground isn’t frozen. These veggies include beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, parsnips, arugula, swiss chard, and other leafy greens.
Carrots, garlic, horseradish, kale, rutabagas, leeks, parsnips, radishes, spinach, and turnips should be harvested last because they can withstand a hard frost.
11. Plant Fall Annuals, Shrubs, and Bulbs
Autumn is the perfect time to plant bulbs, perennials, and other plants before winter arrives. Next spring, your young plants will have a better start.
After a hot summer, the cooler air temperatures of autumn are friendlier to plants and gardeners, but the soil is still warm enough for roots to thrive until the earth freezes. Although fall showers are common, it’s easy to deeply water plants if it doesn’t rain at least an inch per week. Pests and disease problems disappear in the fall. Furthermore, as they try to sell all their remaining inventory before winter, garden centers frequently offer discounts in the late season. Spring-blooming bulbs, perennials, trees, and shrubs can all be planted in the fall, up until the first hard frost in your area. Don’t forget about your lawn, which can be sown now with cool-season turfgrass. Put these plants in the ground in the fall, and they’ll reward you with spectacular color in the spring.
Tulips and hyacinths’ spring bulbs need frost to bloom, so they must be planted in the fall even though you won’t be able to enjoy them until the following spring. Many bulbs are available in a wide range of colors, heights, and bloom dates, allowing you to choose the colors, heights, and bloom times that best fit your garden. If deer and other wildlife are a problem in your yard, plant bulbs that deer and other wildlife don’t like to eat, such as daffodils, grape hyacinths, and alliums.
Planting pansies and their smaller cousins, violas, in the fall, is a great idea because the soil temperatures are still warm enough for their roots to grow enough to withstand the winter. Plus, if you plant them in the fall, you’ll have two seasons of enjoyment from these cool-season favorites, as they’ll often bloom again in the spring as the weather warms up. If you live somewhere where the ground freezes, look for cold-tolerant varieties like Cool Wave. Cover them with a thick layer of mulch once the ground has frozen to protect them from the freezing and thawing cycles that can heave these small plants out of the ground.
The fall is the best time to plant fresh turf grass, whether by seeding or laying down new sod. When it comes to growing fresh grass, seeding is usually the less expensive and easier DIY option, but sod will deliver more immediate results. If you merely want to fix a patchy or sparse lawn, scrape the patches to expose the soil, spread grass seeds where you want them to grow, then lightly cover with compost or straw. Keep the fresh grass well-watered until the cold weather arrives.
After the temperature cools down after the summer, but the soil remains warm enough for root development, this is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Before digging, check with your local utility agencies to determine if there are any subsurface cables. Wherever feasible, plant trees and shrubs at their natural soil lines. To give newly planted trees and shrubs a good start before winter hibernation, keep them adequately watered until the ground freezes.
Autumn is one of the best times of year to add new perennials to your garden. You can also divide and replant existing perennials like hostas and astilbe in your garden. Before the ground freezes, water any fall-planted perennials to encourage new, healthy root growth before they go dormant for the winter. Frost heaving can be prevented by laying a blanket of shredded leaves or other mulch around them, about 3 inches deep. When spring arrives, they’ll be ready to fill your garden beds with new leaves.
12. Keep the Deck Safe
You’ve spent the entire summer on your deck or patio, but the weather is starting to change. Here are some tips to get you ready for fall.
- As summer gives way to fall, it’s time to protect your outdoor furniture from the elements. If you have the space, consider storing patio furniture in a garage or shed. If desired, cover the things with a light tarp.
- If you live in an area where the fall weather is warmer, you may want to leave your furniture out a little longer, especially if you enjoy spending time around a fire pit.
- If your deck or patio has a wood-burning fire pit, look for damage from a falling branch, weather exposure, or animal activity. For propane or natural gas fire pits and heaters, check the connections and integrity of the gas supply.
- While storing outdoor equipment, you’ll be able to see more of your deck or patio. This is a great time to look for and secure any loose boards or sunken patio pavers. Depending on their condition, individual boards or pavers may need to be reset or replaced. You can secure deck planks and raise sunken pavers on your own.
- While resetting your pavers, you may spot any cracks. Even small gaps can be blown apart by expanding ice if you live in a location with a freeze/thaw cycle. Small fractures can be corrected right away, avoiding the need to replace entire pavers later.
- Fortunately, repairing tiny cracks is a simple activity that can be done at home and is a lot of fun. Simply clean the crack and use a two-part epoxy masonry or concrete adhesive to join the pieces. If the paver hasn’t yet fallen apart, clean the crack line with a wire brush and vacuum, or use an air compressor. After that, seal the crack using a concrete caulk. Unfortunately, even the greatest paver repair will show. Replace the paver if the cracks are too extensive to repair or if the appearance is completely gone.
- Once your deck boards or patio pavers are secure, clean them with a pressure washer. When you powerwash it towards the end of the summer, you’ll have a clean surface for the off-season, which means less cleaning when it’s time to reopen in the spring. It’s also the first and most crucial step in protecting your deck or patio with a protective coating.
- When it comes to prepping your deck and patio for the fall and winter, don’t stop with the building materials. Look up to check if any overhanging dead branches need to be cut back before they fall down on their own. A properly prepared deck or patio may not be able to withstand the power of a huge limb falling on it.
- Encroaching shrubs and bushes on your deck or patio, meanwhile, can create a habitat for wildlife as well as moss growth. While animals eat the deck boards, moss is a tripping hazard. Chipmunks and other burrowing critters may wreak havoc on patio foundations. If possible, cut back nearby plants by at least six inches to prevent moss and animal activity.
13. Clean and Store Your Tools
Before winding up the gardening season and retiring indoors for a well-deserved rest, make sure that all of your gardening tools are properly cleaned and stowed for the winter. Don’t be surprised if you find your shovel, pruning shears, or garden fork rusted, splintered, and dull next spring when you take them up!
Inspecting your gardening tools is best done in the fall. Some may only need a thorough cleaning, while others may need some maintenance or repair before being stored for the winter. So, if you want your tools to last, here are the things you must do every fall.
Clean all your Tools:
This is the most basic thing you can do to keep your tools in good working order, but it’s the one we probably don’t do very often. Make sure your gardening tools are as clean as possible before storing them for the winter. Why? Because dirt contains corrosive chemicals that cause the metal to corrode and wood to deteriorate.
Remove any dirt from the equipment’s blades or tines that come into contact with the soil. A strong water jet from a hose should be sufficient. To remove clay or caked-on grime, use a stiff-bristled brush and a little elbow grease. A toothbrush works well for smaller equipment. Wipe off both the shaft and the handle.
Remove any sap from the cutting equipment’s blades (such as loppers, pruners, shears, and saws). This can be done using turpentine or a solvent formulated specifically for cutting tools. Be cautious when cleaning such sharp blades!
Finally, make sure everything is completely dry. An old towel or cotton rag might be used for this.
Clear any Rust:
While cleaning your tools, make a note of any rust that isn’t easily removed; these areas will require additional attention. Steel wool or a wire brush can be used to remove any visible rust. Consider utilizing a wire brush connected to a drill bit to swiftly remove rust from a large area, such as a shovel blade, if your tools are extensively corroded. Because wire shards frequently fly off the brush, always wear safety glasses!
To prevent rust from returning, apply a thin layer of oil to metal items. Alternatives include WD-40 or a comparable aerosol lubricant, motor oil, cooking oil, and linseed oil.
Clean Wood Parts:
Splinters and even cracks can arise from drying out wooden handles and shafts in the winter.
After washing and drying your garden tools, use fine to medium sandpaper to lightly smooth the wooden components to remove any splinters. Wipe the wood with boiling linseed oil to protect it from drying out (apply with a rag). Use enough oil to completely coat all surfaces.
While you’re doing this, look for any cracks in the wooden grips or shafts. So that your garden tools are ready to use in the spring, replace any damaged handles immediately.
Winterize Water Equipment:
In cold weather, water freezes and expands. If there is water within a hose, watering wand, or sprinkler, it is possible for it to burst, split, or break. Remove all of the water from your watering equipment and store it somewhere dry and out of the sun before the winter season begins (sunlight can degrade hoses).
Protect your hose by coiling it and storing it safely (prevent any kinks or folds). Hang it on the wall with a hose storage reel or two large hooks; draping it over a single hook may cause the hose to kink and perhaps shatter.
What are the Fall Clean-Up Safety Tips?
- Put on appropriate clothing.
Avoid wearing clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the equipment. Long pants, long sleeves, and sturdy footwear with non-slip soles (bonus points for steel-toe boots) can help protect skin and protect against falls or dropped objects. When working with loud or motorized equipment, always wear eye protection, heavy gloves, and hearing protection, such as earplugs.
- Examine your working environment
Examine your work area for foreign objects that could cause injury or damage to equipment, such as rocks, debris, or sticks. If you intend to dig into the ground with tools, contact MISS DIG in Michigan or your equivalent local program to ensure the area is free of underground utilities. Don’t take it for granted that there are no buried lines beneath your property.
- Keep tools out of the reach of children.
Make sure to properly shut down and store equipment so that it cannot be accidentally started by young hands or activated accidentally if it comes into contact with other objects in a shed or garage. Sharp tools should ideally be covered and stored high and out of reach of children.
- Hand tools aren’t always the safest option.
Last year, hand-operated garden tools accounted for over 64,000 ER visits. Check that your tools are in good working order, as broken pieces can cut or injure you. To avoid strains, back pain, and other overuse injuries, make sure the equipment is properly sized for the individual using it.
- Keep an eye on children.
As a parent of small children, I am aware that they move quickly and are often drawn to the riding mowers and powered machinery that adults use. When using powered equipment, keep an eye out for tractors, mowers, and other tools that may be nearby. Teach children to respect and stay away from running equipment.
A tractor or riding mower should never be ridden or driven by a child. Teens who are mature and physically capable of handling outdoor power equipment may be able to operate it safely. However, hiring a professional service should always be the rule.
- Gasoline and fire are incompatible.
Never add gasoline to a fire that is burning leaves or yard debris, no matter how tempting it may be. According to the CPSC, 13,924 people visited the emergency room due to gasoline-related injuries and burns. If the equipment is still hot, never fill gas tanks while it is running. Any spills should be cleaned up. Never smoke or use a flame in the presence of gasoline or flammable liquids.
- Electricity and water should never be combined.
Electric power tools should never be used near water or in wet conditions. To protect yourself from electrical shock, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs can be installed in newer homes or purchased as a plug-in-type extension cord addition from hardware and home improvement stores. While you’re at it, double-check that your extension cords are in good condition, aren’t frayed, and are the correct size (gauge) to safely power the equipment you’re using.
The Advantages of Using a Professional Landscaping Company for Fall Cleaning
Aside from easing you of the laborious task of cleaning up your outdoor space this fall season, there are plenty of other advantages to consider when deciding whether or not to look for a professional landscaping company to perform fall cleanup services. Expert landscapers have a keen eye for beautifying your outdoor space and increasing its curb appeal if you ever plan to sell your home. They can also inspect your yard for potential problems, inconsistencies, or dead plants that should be removed and advise you accordingly based on their many years of experience.
Before hiring a landscaping company to do any type of work on your lawn, even if it’s just a minor cleanup project, always do your research thoroughly. Proper lawn care from a knowledgeable and highly skilled professional will ensure that your yard remains the envy of the entire neighborhood, and fall cleanups will also ensure that your outdoor space isn’t destroyed by inclement weather in the winter. Landscapers will be able to quickly diagnose any potential problems with your plants and recommend and implement appropriate treatment options.
How to Find a Good Fall Clean Up Service
You could spend a lot of time researching local landscaping companies and calling around to find someone who is available. Once you’ve found one you like, you can only hope they show up on time.
A highly rated, fall cleanup service, like Edenapp, will remove the leaves from your lawn’s surface, allowing it to receive the necessary sunlight and oxygen. You’ll receive updates directly to your phone, as well as a customer support team dedicated to ensuring that your service runs smoothly.
How Much does Fall Clean Up Cost?
As the fall season progresses, trees begin to shed their leaves all over your lawn. You’ll want to tidy things up as soon as possible as a homeowner. If leaves aren’t removed, they develop a carpet in your yard that can cause a slew of issues. When evaluating charges, professional leaf removal services take into account a range of factors, such as the size of the property, the number and species of trees on the property, the amount of time required, and so on.
The average cost of fall cleanup in the country is between $200 and $400. Most people pay around $300 for a leaf clean-up using a vacuum and mulching leaves for a garden or compost on a 10,000 square foot home. At the low end of the scale, leaf blowing, collecting, and bagging for city pickup should cost around $75. On the high end, leaf blowing, removal, and disposal might cost up to $500.
How Fall Clean Up Differ than Spring Clean-Up?
After the last of the snow melts in March, it’s time to prepare your lawn for the summer growing season. Depending on the size of your property, this can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Professional landscaping companies like Edenapp can complete the spring cleanup job in less time because they have the necessary training and tools.
Winter is not kind to most landscapes; strong winds, heavy snow, and even rain can bring down tree limbs, twigs, and leaves, leaving your property in a state of disarray come spring. All of this trash must be collected and removed from the property. Lawn areas should also be revitalized; if snow remains on the lawn for an extended period of time, the grass can become matted down with debris and infected with mold. Raking and de-thatching the area will remove the infected grass while also promoting airflow. Snowplowing damage to lawns should be cleaned up, loamed, and seeded. Plantings should be pruned as needed at this time, and dead, dying, or broken limbs should be removed and disposed of. Planting beds should also be maintained; they should be weeded, cleaned, and edged, and weed control should be applied if desired. If you mulch your planting beds, which we recommend, now is the time to do so. Mulching early in the spring will help reduce water use and weeding later in the season, as well as give your landscape a fresh, clean appearance.
Checklist for Spring Yardwork Cleaning:
- Remove litter.
- Remove thatch and leaves with a rake.
- Weeds must be removed.
- Perennials should have dead leaves and stalks removed and discarded.
When the leaves begin to fall in late September or early October, it’s time to start preparing your lawn for the winter months. Our fall yardwork cleanup will protect your plants while also preparing your yard and outdoor space for icy weather and snow.
The final preparation for your landscape before winter is critical in order to ensure that your lawn and plantings survive the winter in good health. Plant diseases that spread in the fall are likely to persist until the spring thaw by living in debris such as leaves, dead branches, soil, or other fungal-holding material. Mycelium, spores, and other reproductive fungal cultures will survive the winter in dead plant material and reinfect your yard in the spring. As a result, leaves and debris from all planting beds and lawn areas must be removed, and dead material from perennials and flowering plants must be cut back and disposed of. Cleaning debris from gutters around your home is also a good idea at this time; if this step is skipped, water damming can occur, causing ice to form under shingles and damage your roof.
If you are physically incapable, have a time constraint, or simply believe you can spend your time doing something more constructive and/or productive than cleaning up your yard, we will gladly do the spring and/or fall clean up for you. If you prefer, we can handle all aspects of landscape maintenance for you, or we can simply mow your lawn on a weekly basis. That is entirely up to you.
Checklist for Yard Cleaning:
- Removing the leaves
- Perennials, shrubs, and trees are pruned back.
- Fertilization of trees and shrubs.
Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!