It’s October, which means fall is in full swing. With all the leaves and dead plants, many people assume gardening season it over, but they’re wrong. In fact, assuming it’s time to walk away from your yard can be bad news for your landscaping. Taking care of yard cleanup now is actually vital to your landscaping maintenance and making your garden the best it can be come spring. Since we all want that perfect spring landscaping, here are some tips on what to do for your fall yard cleanup, and why.
Rake Your Leaves
I know, I know, raking the leaves is one of those chores most of us just don’t want to do, but taking the time to do it will work wonders for your lawn. When leaves are left alone, they get stuck together with rain and dew, which makes for a prime breeding ground for fungus and a suffocating mat over your lawn. By raking up your leaves, you allow your lawn and flower beds to breath and recover for next year’s growth. And, as a bonus, you can compost the dead leaves into great, nutrient-rich soil for the spring; just set up a compost bin or pen and turn the leaves over every couple weeks to help the leaves break down.
Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize
The general consensus is that the best time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall. Though it may not seem like things are growing, it’s during mid to late fall that much of the below-the-surface growth happens that leads to healthy and robust root growth. Better roots mean better plants, flowers, and landscaping. By making fertilization and lawn chemical applications part of your fall landscaping maintenance, you’ll be setting your garden up for healthy root growth now and giving it a stash of nutrients to jump-start growth in the spring.
Mulch All Over
Before we get too close to winter and the ground gets too hard, throw some mulch over your flower beds. Mulch is a vital part of flower bed maintenance as it can help prevent weed growth, retain moisture, and insulate your plants from the cold. Adding a few inches of mulch will give your plants some protection and a nutrient-rich environment in which to wait out the winter months. It’s important to remember, however, that too much mulch can smother your plants, so make sure not to add more than four inches to your flower beds.
Clear out the Dead Plants
Now is the time to take care of the plants that have run their course. Cut down herbs and plants that are no longer growing and remove and dead flowers or buds (called deadheading) from your perennials. The dead ends of your plants can suck energy from the rest of the plant that is still living, so removing the dead parts redistributes energy and encourages new growth. Similarly, use the fall months to take out the annuals that have lived their life. It’s much easier to pull them up when there’s some plant left, rather than waiting to dig them out later. And, while you’re already down in the dirt, the fall is also a good time to spread around the bulbs of plants like irises, lilies, and tulips to make more room for next year’s flowers.
Really, the secret to beautiful spring and summer landscaping is all about the yard cleanup and maintenance work you put in during the fall. Raking, mulching, and deadheading are all important landscaping maintenance tasks that can get overlooked by people who think that fall means the plants are dead and done for the year. By taking care of your lawn now, you can be the envy of the street when your spring blooms come in.