For some gardeners, the fall is when the garden starts to wind down, and it’s time to shut things up and put things to bed and prepare for winter. For other gardeners, fall is the time to prepare for spring and enjoy their fall-blossoming plants. Here are some ways to take care of a yard for fall.
Don’t Forget the Lawn
Water and mow the lawn as usual until the grass goes dormant. Aerate the lawn to loosen thatch, and let in nutrients and sunlight during the winter. Some lawn experts claim that the best time to fertilize the lawns in the winter, when it’s dormant. Rake up all debris from the lawn. Overseed bare spots in the lawn.
The bulbs of flowers such as daffodils should be planted in the fall so they can emerge in early spring. The seeds of cold hardy vegetables such as kale and spinach should be sown in the fall, as should the seeds of plants that flower early in the spring such as forget-me-nots. Plants that are tender to frost should either be brought indoors or protected with burlap or lightweight covers.
Discard and Prune
It’s time to pick the last harvest from those summer vegetables, pull up the plants, and put them in the compost pile. The same is true of blackberry canes that have already borne fruit.
The best time to prune most shrubs and trees are when they are dormant, according to experts such as Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc. Prune enough to allow good air circulation and to prevent branches from crossing. Remove branches that are dead or diseased.
Tools, Equipment and Furniture
Sharpen and lightly oil all gardening tools and put them away. Clean the lawn mower, and sharpen the blades. If it is a power mower, make sure that the spark plug has been removed or that its electrical cable is not plugged in. Replace a blade that is dull or damaged beyond repair, check the air filter, and change the oil. Drain the gas tank, for old gasoline left over the winter forms a sludge that might ruin the mower’s engine. If the lawn furniture is not going to be used during the colder months, it should be cleaned, brought into a shed or a garage and covered with a tarp.
Preparing a yard for the fall is simple. Pulling up or pruning shrubs, trees and plants, preparing the lawn for its dormancy and keeping furniture and equipment tidy makes bringing everything back out for the spring a pleasure. The spring blossoms that arise from fall plantings is a reward for all the work.