Fall is officially here! In addition to visiting pumpkin patches, enjoying football games, and treating yourself to your favorite autumn-inspired beverage, there is another task that should be at the top of your fall to-do list: Preparing your lawn and garden for winter. 

What do I need to do in the fall to prepare my lawn & garden?

Don’t worry – prepping your yard for the cooler months ahead does not need to require too much time or energy. It just requires some clean-up, protection, and storage. 

You’d be amazed at how tidying up your yard from leaves and debris, protecting your fragile garden from the colder temperatures, and storing your plants and outdoor decor will improve your future outdoor space! 

Here’s exactly what you need to do: 

Clean-up Tasks

Tidying up your yard is crucial during the fall season, and October is a wonderful time to spend some time doing just that. In fact, Kurtz Bros accepts yard waste free of charge for Franklin County residents. Click here for more details. 

The Yard

One of the best parts of autumn is admiring the beauty of the changing leaves. However, once the leaves change color, they inevitably fall, leaving you with the sometimes-daunting task of cleaning up. It is imperative to spend some time removing fallen leaves from your yard because they can be a detriment to your grass by creating too much moisture and possibly allowing mold to grow in the process. You want a dry and healthy yard before the winter months hit, so leaf removal is a must! On the other hand, fallen leaves can also be an extremely beneficial resource for soil conditioning. If you can, save yourself a bag or two while cleaning to use on next year’s gardens and plant beds. 

For a more rapid clean-up, you may want to invest in a walk-behind leaf blower or leaf vacuum, which will allow for quick removal of fallen leaves. A leaf blower would definitely be a worthwhile investment if your yard is full of trees! For those whose lawns require only one or two cleanups for the season, a rake should be efficient enough. 

Flower Beds

When winter officially begins and the first snow falls, you want your flower beds to be clear of weeds, leaves, twigs, and debris. Snow will then fall directly on a clean flower bed, and that water will be soaked right up, which allows for healthier growth in the spring. Spend some time in these final weeks of fall ensuring that your flower beds are clear and clean. 

Trees

In addition to healthy flower beds, you also want to ensure healthy trees in your yard. Dead, damaged, or diseased branches can have a very negative effect on the rest of the tree. Be sure to clear away any branches, twigs, or leaves that look damaging. Additionally, you can hire a specialist to examine your tree if you fear it is unhealthy. Arborists, for example, specialize in this type of task, and they can provide you with the proper inspection of tree damage and/or insect invasion. 

The Garden

Harvesting your fall fruits and veggies is also a critical part of cleaning up and preparing for winter. 

After you pick your final batch of freshly-grown produce, be sure to take a final look around. Remove any weeds, sticks, or other debris and then till the soil (break-up and turn the soil around). Remember the bag of fallen leaves you saved? Feel free to add a pile to your garden after your final harvest. This will provide added benefits to your soil in the spring. Do you also have a compost? Feel free to add some of that compost material to your garden, too! 

How do I protect or store my plants, shrubs, and decor?

In addition to cleaning up your yard, spending some time protecting your plants, shrubs, and decor is important. The cold winter months and the hibernating insects can wreak havoc on your precious flowers, produce, and greenery. Protection is key! 

Plants

Depending on what type of plants you have, you may need to invest in some coverings. You should cover any delicate produce or flowers with bird netting to protect them from insects, debris, and cold temperatures. 

If you are able, move any tender plants, including houseplants, into a greenhouse or warm, well-lit room. Fragile plants that thrive on sunlight and heat would probably survive better in an indoor environment during the brisk winter months.

Shrubs

Harsh winter winds can damage your shrubs and bushes. Covering them with burlap is an excellent option for protection. Burlap allows airflow without the trapping of moisture. Be sure to avoid plastic in this case because it does not allow air to pass through! 

Decor

If you have decorative water features in your yard, be sure to cover them to prevent water-logging as leaves fall.  

Other pieces of decor, including furniture, firepits, and grills, should be protected or stored. If you have a shed or extra space in your garage, consider storing your decor. If you have limited storage space, tarp or plastic coverings are an effective option. 

Why is this important?

Just like humans, plants also thrive on routine. Establishing a monthly to-do list for your lawn and garden needs proves to be beneficial all year round. Aside from having an overall healthier lawn, it is also much easier to maintain your lawn, flowers, gardens, etc. when you put a little time and effort in each month. 

As the cooler temperatures of fall settle in, conditions are perfect for some sprucing and rejuvenating. Enjoy the last few weeks of comfortable outdoor temperatures by tidying up your yard, flower beds, trees, and garden. Invest in the proper protection for your plants and store any decor or houseplants that you can. 

Take pride in your efforts now, and you’ll be happy you did once spring hits! 

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