Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist


The cooler winds of autumn are on their way. Now’s the time to get your yard ready for the colder weather ahead. Here’s a yard cleanup checklist for getting and keeping you yard ready for fall.

Clean Out Plant Beds

Pests love to hide in weeds and leaves caught up in flower beds. Start pulling weeds and raking leaves out of the bed. It will make the beds look better and make pests go find somewhere else to hide.

Clear and Till the Vegetable Garden

If you have a vegetable garden, fall is the time to get it ready for spring planting. Get the old vegetable plants out of the beds. Remove any debris. Give the entire bed a good till. If you have compost around, add a good layer across the bed and till it in. It will add a lot of nutrients to your beds for spring planting.

Cut Back and Divide Your Summer Perennials

Cut the tops off your summer perennials. If they have grown too big, divide the roots and plant some in another bed. Ask friends or family if they would like some of your perennials for their garden.

Do not cut back fall perennials like chrysanthemums. Those should be left until spring.

Plant Shrubs, Bulbs, and Fall Annuals

After you’ve cleaned out the plant beds and cut back the perennials, it’s time to decide if you want to add anything. Fall is a great time to plant new shrubs or to put in bulbs for springs. Adding fall annuals like pansies will give you color well into winter.

Trim the Bushes and Shrubs

Fall is a great time to give the bushes and shrubs a good trim. Cut them back from the house. Prune away a few of interior branches to give the plant room to fill out. Top off as needed.

The only thing to keep in mind is that some plants, like azaleas, set their blooms in fall for spring blooming. Do not trim them because you will lose all of next year’s blossoms.

Protect Sensitive Plants

If you have any cold-sensitive plants in your yard, fall is the time to protect them before winter sets in. Add a thick layer of mulch around the base to keep the roots safe. For extra sensitive plants, add a sheet or blanket around the plant and tie securely into place.

Add Mulch to the Plant Beds

A solid layer of mulch will protect your plant beds from errant weeds and pests. That way, come spring, you will have clean beds ready to bloom and thrive. It’s one less thing to worry about in the rush of spring growth.

Trim the Trees

Fall and winter can bring a lot of wind to many areas. Before the first winter winds arrive, get any dead or overhanging branches removed. It is a preventative measure that could keep a branch from falling on your roof.

Rake and Mulch the Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are beautiful, until they hit the ground and start suffocating your yard. Take time to rake up the leaves. You can wait until most are down, or do it once a week through the leaf drop. Either way, mulch the leaves and use them in your garden.

To make it easier, invest in a mulching lawn mower that will break the leaves down and distribute them over the lawn. It’s a real time saver, plus it adds nutrients to your lawn.

Aerate the Lawn

Over time, the dirt in your yard can become compacted due to root growth and foot traffic. If you see water pooling in the yard, it’s time to aerate your lawn. For a small yard, use a garden fork to poke holes everywhere. For a larger yard, rent a walk-behind aerator for the job.

Feed the Grass

Many types of lawn grass will continue root growth until the temperature gets down into the forties. That’s why adding a high-phosphorous fertilizer to the lawn in autumn is a good way to ensure you have green grass in the spring.

Mow the Grass

Give your lawn one last trim. Go a bit lower than normal. This helps the ground dry out faster, preventing pest and disease from taking hold in spring. Plus, the leaves don’t catch on the tall grass.

Dry Out Your Water Features

Anything with water needs to be dried out and put away. This includes hoses, fountains, and irrigation systems. Any remaining water can freeze and cause damage.

Clean the Gutters

Get the leaves and debris out of your gutters before winter arrives. If the gutters get full, the water will pour out over the edge and onto the yard below. Plus, if it freezes, it can damage your home’s roof.

Power Wash and Protect the Deck

Fall is a great time to power wash the deck. This removes any mold or dirt. Once it dries, add some waterproofing stain to protect the wood over the winter months.

Clean and Store Yard Tools

Once all your outside work is done, it’s time to clean up the yard tools. Get the dirt and grime off them. Then, put a layer of light oil on the metal surfaces to prevent rust. Then, come spring your tools are ready to go.

Service and Winterize the Lawn Equipment

Your lawn mowers and other power equipment need a bit of attention before the autumn is done. Follow the manufacturer’s direction for what to do. Most will recommend running the equipment out of gas or adding a stabilizer to the fuel. Cleaning the equipment and changing the oil is a good idea. Store the equipment in a place where it won’t get hit with snow or ice.

This fall yard cleanup checklist will get your yard ready for fall and winter. You can do one or two projects each weekend and get them out of the way quickly. Which one are you going to tackle first?


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