To everything there is a season, and with Fall quickly approaching, it is time to take care of your fall landscaping! During the brutal heat of Summer, in most parts of the country, homeowners focus on keeping things alive without spending a fortune on water. They mow their grass. They clear out dead plants. But it is not a time to plant. You don’t typically fertilize anything. But, in the Fall, many homeowners are surprised by the things that should be done to guarantee a healthy yard in the Spring!
These tips are based on local weather, so if things are hot and dry, wait until the temperature cools before landscaping. Northern parts of the country can start in early September. In the South, homeowners might need to wait until October or even November. In the meantime, keep watering and mowing, as needed.
If you get a build-up of dead leaves on your grass, first rake up those and compost them. In areas where yards develop thick mats of undergrowth, professionals recommend aerating the yard in the Fall. You can hire someone to do this or rent the aerator tool. The aerator removes little plugs from the ground to allow air and water to easily get below the grass into the soil.
Next, if you need grass, Fall is the time to plant your seeds, not Spring. Planting in the Fall gives the grass time to build a root system, so by next Summer, the grass will be established and able to survive the low water and heat of Summer. You will need to water your new seeds regularly. Keep the soil from going dry, which will mean watering every few days to a week. If you get adequate rain, you don’t have to worry about watering! In the North, add organic fertilizer eight weeks after the seeds germinate. In the South, you will fertilize in the early Spring. Adding fertilizer with your seeds will burn the seeds, so they won’t grow.
In the North, you can get by with planting some annuals in your yard, so you can enjoy flowers and color for another six to eight weeks! Perennials will go into the ground in the Spring. In the South, depending on the level of cold you get, you can plant annuals and cold tolerant perennials to give them a chance to develop root systems. Avoid planting perennials that may be sensitive to cold, in case you get a surprise cold snap that may kill them before they get established.
As pretty as fall leaves are, once they flutter to the ground and build into piles, it’s time to rake them up. Ideally, you can rake them into one spot, use your lawn mower to pulverize them, then add them to your compost. In late Fall, you will probably have some dead vegetation you can prune and throw away or compost. This is also a good time to get those leaves out of your gutters.
Many homeowners maintain little vegetable gardens. The Fall is a great time to grow herb gardens. Plant vegetables that love cooler weather, like lettuce, beets, spinach, broccoli, peas, radishes, and greens. In the North, you may need to protect them as Fall progresses and you get a risk of freezing. In the South, you can grow these vegetables throughout the Fall and into Winter.
While you are working on your yard, don’t forget all those maintenance items you need to do to your house in the Fall!