Prep for Fall
A few simple chores during autumn can ensure a great-looking yard come spring
Most yards require as much attention in the fall as they do in the spring. Just as you bring the garden to life and set up outdoor spaces after the thaw, you need to put flowerbeds to rest and store everything properly before the frost. Here are some tips for making the process faster and easier.
Rake a couple times a week
Leaves can pile up pretty quickly with every gust of wind. And while you could rake every day, there's no harm in letting foliage blanket the grass for a short time. Aim to rake a couple times a week especially when you have time to jump in the piles with your kids.
Think green with leaves
Leaves are ideal for a backyard compost heap, but you can also use them as organic mulch to protect plants during the winter. Round up leaves in a lawn bag - one with handles is easiest to haul around the yard. Heap a layer of leaves several inches thick onto flowerbeds; over time it'll break down into a nutrient-dense "hummus" for your plants.
Give everything a trim
Tidy hedges and cut back perennials if you live in a mild climate. In colder areas, leave dead stems in place to protect the crown of the plant. Prune trees and bushes of dead, damaged or diseased branches, and pare down overgrown trees (just don't shear from the top or you'll lose many of next year's flower buds). Just neaten now; save heavy-duty pruning to shape and direct tree or shrub growth for the spring.
Clean and stow yard furniture
Wait for a dry, sunny day to prepare lawn furniture for storage. Launder pillow and seat-cushion covers according to the care instructions on their tags, and replace inserts while still damp so the cases won't shrink. Wipe down wooden chairs and apply furniture polish if necessary. Wash metal furniture with a soapy cloth and rinse well. A bristle brush and hose are the tools to use on wicker or resin furniture (apply wax to real wicker if needed). Let everything dry thoroughly if you don't, it could rust or mildew and then put away in the garage or in an outdoor storage shed.
Store small accessories wisely and safely
Other outdoor supplies, lights, flowerpots, hoses, garden tools, sporting equipment and more can be stored together in a deck box or small shed; one that locks will guarantee everything will be there come spring. If you're keeping a gas grill in the garage, disconnect the propane tank first and store it upright outside, away from vents and kids play areas (such a tank should never be stored indoors). If you are keeping the grill outdoors, the tank can remain attached; the entire unit just needs to be cleaned, then draped with a protective cover.