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Essential Fall Lawn & Yard Maintenance Checklist

A crisp scent in the air signals two things: pumpkin-spiced everything is now available, and it’s time to get busy with yard maintenance. Add these tasks to your fall maintenance checklist to make spring cleanup easier and prevent plants and trees from suffering winter-weather damage.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

Clean It Up

General cleanup is the first step to fall yard maintenance. Decrease the chance of overwintering diseases by removing weeds and debris from flower beds, vegetable gardens and especially from roses. Tree leaves can suffocate lawn, making the perfect breeding ground for destructive insects, so be sure to rake them up as soon as possible.

Bring container plants indoors - Move any container plants indoors for the winter. When frost danger passes in spring, you can move them back outside.

Lawn Care

Feed, weed and aerate are the key words for fall lawn maintenance. In cool-weather regions, a quick-release fertilizer that contains urea or ammoniacal nitrogen is recommended. In areas where grass continues to grow all year-round, a controlled-release formula high in water-insoluble nitrogen is best.

Patch and Weed - Patching up bald spots and taking care of weeds go hand-in-hand because if you don't fill in those bare spots in the weeds will happily oblige. Use an all-in-one repair mixture that contains fertilizer and organic mulch as well as seeds for best results. Run a rake over the thin spot to scratch up the soil, and spread a thick layer of the mixture over the prepared area. Keep the spot evenly moist for the next 14 days. Once that chore is complete, apply an herbicide (organic is best) to take care of broadleaf weeds.

Aerating helps reduce the amount of water needed to penetrate through to the lawn’s roots. If needed, first dethatch the lawn with a thorough raking to remove dead grass. Follow up by aerating. Aerating may require renting a gas-powered aerator if you have a large property, though most homeowners can probably make do with a manual tool.

Mow once more - Before the leaves blanket your yard, mow the grass one final time until spring. If you like, leave the grass clippings in place to nourish the grass.

Tree and Shrub Care

The planting season for shrubs, trees and vines extends through the end of October. There is still time for roots to establish themselves before temperatures drop. Protect the bark of shrubs and young trees from rodents with a cylinder of mesh cloth. Remove broken or problematic limbs and branches in the fall that could be a hazard when winter winds begin to howl. Leave heavy pruning for late mid-winter when trees go dormant. Give shrubs and trees a deep soak if rainfall is light.

Remove annuals and trim perennials - Giving your garden beds extra attention will make spring maintenance easier. Cut back perennials; dig up and divide any perennials that are too crowded in their current space. Remove spent annuals and compost them if desired. At the same time, dig up summer bulbs if you would like to save them and re-plant them come spring. Dahlias, cannas, caladiums and other bulbs all store well. If these bulbs are hardy to your area, you can leave them in the ground and rest assured they will bloom again.

Bulbs and Perennials

Fall is a great time to plant shrubs and spring-flowering bulbs. Tender bulbs should be dug up and stored for the winter. Plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils. It is also the perfect time to divide and replant hardy bulbs like iris and other perennial plants such as Oriental poppies.


Fall yard maintenance starts with cleaning and ends with mulching. Cover beds with a 2 to 4-inch layer of fresh mulch to help retain much-needed moisture, protect roots from frost and provide an extra boost of nutrition to the soil.

Prep Your Lawn Equipment

Tune up, clean and lubricate your mower, trimmers and other yard tools at the end of the season. Always store your lawn equipment in a clean, dry place, such as the garage or shed. Servicing your equipment properly will ensure they are in good working condition when spring arrives.

Tackle these tasks all at once, or spread them out to make your workload lighter. A little extra work now will make your springtime cleanup much easier. Follow for weekly home tips, tours & remodels.



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