Preparing Your Lawn and Garden for Fall and Winter

by Rachel Laurendeau on September 27, 2012

As the seasons change, so too must our gardening and landscaping habits. It is time to help your lawn and garden prepare for the colder months ahead by following a few easy fall lawn care steps. This will keep your yard looking better longer into the season and will also mean a healthier landscape come spring.

It’s a good idea to start preparing for fall and winter now, before the truly miserable weather sets in. The outdoor chores such as lawn care have to be done, so we might as well get to them on a warm(ish) fall day instead of waiting for a cold, blustery, rainy day in a few weeks.

1. Continue to cut your grass until growth seems to have stopped for about two weeks. Grass should be left between two and three inches high. If you cut it too short, the crown will be exposed to drying winter winds and sun. Left too tall and it will be more susceptible to snow mold and fungal diseases.

2. If you have any patchy areas in your lawn, the next few weeks are a great time to sow cool-season grasses such as rye and fescue. Planting them about 6 weeks before heavy frost will give them the time to germinate and settle in their root system before the really cold temperatures hit.

3. Fall is a good time to fertilize your lawn; providing more nutrients now will allow the turfgrasses time to store carbohydrates (food) to help them through the winter. It is best to use an all-natural, slow-release fertilizer when tending to your fall landscaping.

4. The end of the growing season is a good time to spot-treat weeds with an all-natural herbicide or get pulling, if you prefer. This way, the already-established weeds won’t be coming up strong in the spring.

5. Raking leaves in the fall is an important step in protecting your lawn. If you don’t rake, the leaves that are left can block water from reaching your lawn or trap too much moisture, which will rot and kill your grass.

6. If you have garden beds, this is the time to edge the boarders, clear out debris, dried plants and leaves and to fluff up your mulch. This is also a good time to spread compost in your garden beds and at the base of trees and shrubs.

A little extra effort now can ensure an easier start for you and a better-looking lawn come spring.

Resources: Buckeye Gardening and HGTV

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