Winter is just around the corner, and now is the time to get out while the weather is still warm and get cracking on some must-do fall chores for your great outdoors!
What you do this fall can set the stage for smooth sailing next year when it comes to your outdoor landscape and equipment.
Unfortunately, what you don’t do can also have a big hand in creating next year’s problems.
Here are 5 Must-Do fall chores to help you, your landscape, and your lawn and garden equipment prepare for ol’ man winter.
5 Must-Do Fall Chores For Your Outdoors
#1 Mow Your Grass A Little Lower The Last Time
We’ve all heard it’s better to keep your lawn mowed higher in the spring and summer to promote good health and growth. But the opposite rings true in the fall when preparing a lawn for winter.
After your grass has stopped growing for the season, lower your mower down a setting or two and trim it low. About 2″ is ideal. Keeping grass mowed too tall in the fall, or not mowing at all late in the season can lead to a host of problems next season.
Taller, thick grass has a difficult time drying out in the cool, wet conditions of fall and winter – and that is where fungal disease and mold can thrive and take hold. Taller grass also gives all kinds of insects, rodents and other pests a great place to hide.
Cutting that grass a bit lower when your lawn goes dormant helps to alleviate both issues. That lower height will also help clean up and mulch any leftover leaves that have fallen to the ground.
#2 Clean And Disinfect Your Garden Tools
Fall is the time to clean all of your garden and landscape tools. Not only does getting the dirt and grime off help extend their life, it also can keep your plant’s healthier!
You would be amazed at how many diseases can be transferred from plant to plant by the blades and surfaces of your tools. Take time to clean off shovels, rakes, shears and pruners, and then wipe down with a simple solution of bleach and water.
A 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of water is more than enough to do the trick. Not only will your tools look great – they will be ready to go next spring!
#3 Winterize Equipment and Clean That Mower Deck!
One of the hardest things on a push or riding mower is to leave a season’s worth of collected grass clogged under the deck. When left through the wintertime, wet grass and debris under a mower deck can begin to rot out belts, pulleys, and the mower deck too!
Take time to clean under the deck completely, and while you’re at it, remove those blades and sharpen. That way, come spring – you are ready to roll!
Now is also the time to winterize all of your outdoor power equipment. Be sure to run the gas out of mowers, string trimmers, blowers and all gas-powered equipment that will be stored.
You can also use a fuel stabilizer additive to keep engines and gas from gumming up over the winter. Either way, gas left on its own will begin to go “stale”, and will make it difficult to start equipment next spring.
#4 Clear Debris From Your Flowerbeds And Garden Beds
Nothing will cause more issues next year with bugs, pests and disease in your landscape than letting dying and decaying plants overwinter. Plants left to rot away are the perfect host for insects and pests to hide out. They are also an easy target for disease to find a permanent home.
Remove spent stems, blooms and foliage from perennial plants in flowerbeds, containers and pots. Be sure to clear out that vegetable garden as well. Old vegetable plants can spread disease in the soil, and their rotting seeds will cause a weeding nightmare next season when they sprout up to compete with your new plants.
And once you clear that garden, be sure to plant a cover crop! Cover crops recharge soil naturally, and keep it from eroding away in harsh winter conditions. (See: how to plant a cover crop)
One exception – ornamental grasses. If at possible, leave these beauties up until spring. Not only do they overwinter well, they also provide great protection for many beneficial birds and wildlife.
#5 Get Your Winter Tools Ready NOW!
Last but not least, take the time now while the temperatures are still bearable to get your winter equipment ready to go!
Get snow shovels out and place them in an easy to find spot. If you have a snow blower – fire it up and make sure it works. Be sure to run it up every few weeks as well to keep it in prime running condition.
There is nothing worse than having that big snowfall hit and not being able to find your snow shovel or get your snow blower started to clear it off!
So get out there and tackle those fall chores, your landscape and garden will thank you next year!
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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