Do You Know How to Handle These 9 Fall Clean-up Items? |
Anne Roberts Gardens premier_landscaping_tip_-fall-cleanup

Do You Know How to Handle These 9 Fall Clean-up Items?

Premier Landscaping Tip: Check Off These 9 Work Details to Ready Your Yard for Spring

Many people approach fall with mixed feelings. While we’re generally sad to say goodbye to summer, fall can be refreshing. The temps are generally perfect for outdoor work, and getting your outdoor space winter-ready and in shape for next year’s outdoor time means ticking off ALL of the applicable items on this list.

Read on: We’ll tell you what to do and how.

1. Aerate Your Lawn

Unless you’ve done it before, you might be tempted to skip this item with an “I-don’t-know-how” flip of the head. Aerating isn’t that hard, and when you know why you should do it, you’ll be less likely to skip this important fall clean-up detail.

Understanding why you should do it just might give you the impetus to starting aerating: When soil is compressed, nutrients and moisture aren’t able to reach the roots of your grass, and if you want lush green grass, you’ve got to give it healthy conditions. If you have a small yard, you can use a garden fork or any sturdy long-handled device with prongs (like a pitch fork) to aerate. Stick the fork about 4″ into the ground and rock it back and forth. Now move ahead another 4-6 inches and hit the next spot. Now congratulate yourself on what you’ve achieved: You’ve just loosened the soil and allowed oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass. You can also use a manual lawn plug aerator or a gas-powered one, which you can often rent from the tool department at places like Lowes and Home Depot. If you’d like to watch a brief video on how to aerate, check out this one-minute video link.

2. Once You’ve Aerated, Fertilize Your Grass One Last Time

Grass will grow until the temperature dips 8-10 degrees above freezing. Fertilizing now that you’ve aerated and the grass can receive the nutrients will help encourage roots and give you a great start on spring greening. 

3. Plant New Shrubs, Trees, and Bulbs

Because fall is the prime season for planting shrubs and trees, do it now. The cooler temps combined with the growing season and a less arid soil than in the heat of summer will give new plantings a great start. Don’t forget that now is when you’ll want to get your bulbs in, too.  (To learn more about the ideal time for bulb planting, read what American Meadows says about ideal conditions and times for bulb planting.)

4. Divide Plants and Cut Back Perennials

One of the great things about perennial gardening is that as plants begin to get big enough to divide, your investment in them starts to pay off! We’ll talk more about dividing perennials in a future post.

5. Cut Dead Limbs (not to be confused with pruning!)

Trim dead or diseased limbs and branches off trees and shrubs. You may be able to handle most of smaller limbs yourself, especially on shrubs. Larger limbs should be handled by professionals.

6. Mulch New Plantings

You’ll want to keep a 2-4″ layer of mulch on new plantings to help keep roots warm. This will help them survive their first winter in their new habitat.

7. Clear Out Irrigation Systems and Gutters

If your home has an irrigation system that you put in, you probably know that it needs to be winterized in order to avoid damaging the system. If your new home has an existing system, you may not realize that winterizing  is critical and that you’ll either need to learn how to do it (you can find tips here) or you’ll need to call a landscaper and have them do it for you.

Gutters and downspouts should be cleared to prevent leaking roofs and water damage, which can cost thousands of dollars in repair.

8. Rake Leaves (compost, if you can)

This one goes without saying, but, if you can, try making a compost pile out of leaves. According the the Compost Guide, “the leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus.”  Visit their link and gets tips on how to ensure that your leaves break down and supply you with the best compost.

9. Mow Shorter

You’ll be putting the mower away for the season, so make your last mow a shorter one to last you until the spring thaw.


We at Anne Roberts Gardens can help you with maintenance items, including:

  • Spring & Fall clean-up
  • Pest & Disease control
  • Cultivating
  • Fertilizing
  • Weeding
  • Edging
  • Pruning
  • Winter protection



About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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