Fall Yard TasksFall yard clean-up starts with the gutters, which requires setting up a ladder to reach them. You can have rain gutter guards set up to keep leaves out. Second, there are leaf blower extensions that can reach up into the gutter and blow leaves out.
Once they are clean, take a hose and pour some water into your rain gutters and view where it goes. Do you need extensions to direct the water far from your foundation and prevent leaks? When diverting water, make certain to avoid driveway and pathways, which might ice over and become threats in the winter.
A Lawn Winter
Leaf cleanup is a relentless but needed fight. Leaves left scattered for the winter will smother the yard. Do not worry, however, about getting every last leaf out of the plant beds. As they breakdown, leaves can assist insulate plants and provide them with valuable nutrients.
As for exactly what do to with all the leaves you've raked, remember to recycle them in your own compost pile or at a town recycling. If you are utilizing the leaves on your own compost heap, either grind them up or run them over with a mower to speed decay. To move big stacks of leaves, I advise stacking them onto a tarp and dragging them to their destination?be it compost heap or garbage bag.
As soon as the leaves are collected, cut your lawn one last time prior to the winter season, cutting it as short as possible to avoid matting, disease and rodent damage. When you are done mowing, run the lawn mower itself till it runs out of gas. Gas left to sit in the tank over the winter season will gum up the carburetor so it won't run as well next spring.
Early in November, I like to fertilize the yard with a high phosphorus mixture to promote root development over the winter, so the grass will green up earlier come spring. Fall is also a good time to fertilize shrubs and trees. (See our post on Fall Fertilizing.) I do not advise pruning decorative trees and shrubs, as they can contract dieback and suffer from winter desiccation-- although I will confess to pruning my holly trees right before Christmas.
In the garden, get rid of leftover greenery and put it in the garden compost stack. Rake lime and fertilizer into the soil bed and sow a cover crop of winter rye.
Now's the time to get your snowblower up and running. Nothing's more discouraging than having your snowblower not start when the very first snow storm hits. If you're a snow shoveler, check that your shovels are where you left them and in working order. They have a funny practice of disappearing over the year.
Be sure that it is cleared of water so it will not freeze up and damage pipes if you have an irrigation system. If you don't, drain your pipes by laying them on a down slope and pulling them gradually toward you, coiling as you go. Once they're coiled, tie and shop them in your garage or shed. Then head to the basement to shut off the water to your outdoor spigots. On the pipe, in between the spigot and the shut-off, you'll find a weep valve that you can drain pipes and open into a pail. These steps will avoid pipes from freezing and bursting.
For the Birds
Clean Pro Gutter Cleaning
Among the fall activities I delight in most is setting up my bird feeders. My fall lawn chores are done, there is absolutely nothing much better than sitting back with a hot cup of coffee and seeing the birds fly by.