As fall weather creeps our way, it’s time to think about getting your yard and landscape ready for the season ahead. Give yourself enough time, because once the first hard freeze hits, it will be too late.
When we think of mulch, most of us think of spring time with flowers blooming as we beautify our gardens. That is when most mulch is used. But, mulch plays an important role in the fall as well. When the leaves are changing colors, it might be good to lay down a “mulch” blanket for your plants, shrubs and ornamental trees. Mulch creates a barrier between the surface and the snow that is about to fall and insulates the root system. Mulching in the fall is a simple and effective way to ensure the health of your landscape for future years. Fall mulching options.
So long as your lawn continues to grow, it should be mowed throughout the fall. As the season draws to a close, gradually lower the mowing height over the final two to three mowings. This will help the grass adjust to a lower height of cut instead of being scalped just before going into colder conditions. Keeping your grass at a lower height will allow sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and decrease the likelihood of snow mold the following spring.
Aerate the Soil
Fall is an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that nutrients can reach the grass’s root system. Regular aeration–once every couple of years–will help your lawn be healthier and more beautiful. The trick is making sure you aerate at the proper time. In the Upper Midwest, aeration should take place early enough in the fall so the turf can recover before winter dormancy. If you wait too long, your grass will not be able to recover before the first freeze; forcing it to lie dormant and recover the following spring.
Rake the Leaves
Raking is no fun! But it is important to remove fallen leaves from your yard, and ideally, soon after they fall. Leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew if they sit around too long, and eventually stick together. Wet, clumpy leaves form a mat that will suffocate the grass and create an environment to breed fungal diseases, if not removed.
If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. Fall is when cool grasses are recovering from the summer stresses of heat, drought, and disease. Fall fertilization will allow the grass to store up nutrients and serve as a source of energy to resist the stresses of winter. Fertilizer should be applied when there is still active growth and before the ground freezing. And always follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application. The goal of fall fertilizing is to promote root growth: the last dose of fertilizer in the fall can make all the difference the following spring.
Fall is a great time to rid your yard of those pesky dandelions, crabgrass, and other weeds. Like most plants, weeds enter an energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They drink everything that comes their way, including weed killers. Apply a herbicide when the soil is moist and the air temperature is moderate. You may need multiple applications to combat the tough-to-kill weeks. Check the label of the herbicide for suggested application intervals.