Winter landscape chores are never anticipated like spring time landscaping, but both work periods are needful to keep plants and lawns thriving. A few winterizing chores done in the late fall will give your lawn and garden a head start when spring planting season rolls back around.
Fall Clean Up
Pests like to over-winter in soft wood debris, like old corn stalks and leaves. Remove and discard all old garden vegetables plants and rake up fallen leaves and toss on compost pile. Clean up flower beds by removing dead flowers and pruning shrubs. Keeping the landscape and garden clean helps control the insect and pest population so less plant damage will occur in succeeding years.
Aerate and Seed Lawn
If you want a lush, green lawn, late summer or early fall is the time to aerate the lawn and sow new grass seed. Labor Day is the reminder I use for the yearly aerating and re-seeding of the lawn. An aerator is a big cylinder shaped yard tool with spikes on it that is rolled across the lawn to poke hole in the grass thatch and soil to allow the grass to be able to take in more water, nutrients and oxygen. Aerators can be rented or purchased to be used with or without a lawn mower.
After the lawn has been aerated, it’s time to re-seed the lawn. Use a broadcast spreader to evenly distribute grass seed over entire lawn or just hand-sprinkle seeds when repairing bare spots. Water thoroughly and continue watering through Thanksgiving.
The first day of November is a good time to fertilize lawn and shrubs so they will be strong and healthy for the winter season. The fall feeding will also help the plants to green up quicker when the weather warms in the spring. In regions that have mild winters, apply 10-10-10 fertilize again around Thanksgiving.
Clean, feed then add a fresh layer of mulch. Adding mulch in the fall keeps soil moisture in (plants need moisture during the winter) and prevents root damage from prolonged freezes and soil heaving. Soil ‘heaves’ when winter soil temperature frequently vacillates between above and below freezing. Mulch helps keep soil temperature stable and protects roots.
Turn Off Water
Don’t stop watering lawns, plants, shrubs and trees too early in the fall, but don’t allow the water to remain on so long it’s causes pipes to freeze and bust. That fine line falls into a different week for each hardiness zone and frost schedule, but it is usually in November.
Water landscape each week there is no rainfall until it’s time for the first predicted frost or freeze, then turn off all outside water. Drain water spigots, hoses and irrigation system lines (a professional may have to be called in for this as an air compressor is usually used for this task).