One interesting aspect about lawn care, gardening and landscaping is that no two years are ever the same. Up until the middle of October, the Midwest had been extremely dry and much warmer than usual. These conditions have delayed the normal fall chores, pushing back such jobs as leaf collection or final mowing to much later in November.
In past years, most leaves have fallen by now and lawns are beginning to harden-off for winter. There are many, many trees that still have mostly green leaves and the fall leaf color change has just started in some areas.
Although it will soon change, most annual plants are still looking good and only slightly damaged by frost. The temperatures are forecasted to drop into the lower 20’s for much of the Midwest. Even the warm season areas are seeing lawns showing signs of frost damage with lawns turning a sort of psychedelic pattern of green and tan colors. Of course, a short time later, the temperatures rebounded back into the 70’s and 80’s.
Fall Chores and Cleanup Checklist
While waiting for the leaves to drop, here are some other fall chores and projects that can be completed this season:
- Plant spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, alliums, etc.
- Fall is a great time to divide perennials, except for ones that flower in the fall. It is best to divide those in the spring.
- In areas where the ground freezes, be sure to winterize sprinkler systems by blowing out the water in the lines and shutting down the system for the winter.
- In areas where the weather turns cold, turn off water to outside spigots. At least remove any hoses that are still attached.
- Remove leaves and debris out of gutters.
- Cover patio furniture or place in a protected area like a shed or garage.
- To avoid outdoor pots from breaking during the winter, either cover them and place in a protected area, empty them or move them indoors.
- Set up some bird feeders for over-wintering birds like cardinals.
- Pull up summer annuals and either compost them or appropriately dispose of them. Be careful not to compost plants that may have been infected by a disease. It is better to dispose of those plants.
- Winterize lawn mowers and clean garden tools. A light coating of oil on the tools will keep them from rusting over the winter.
Keep Up With Raking or Mulching Fall Leaves
Don’t let your leaves pile up this fall season. To save some time and effort, grind up leaves with a mower instead of raking them. According to Dr. Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist from Purdue University, tree leaves can be mulched, and the ground up leaves will help to feed the microorganisms in the soil and won’t cause any harm to your grass.
Get started on the fall chores checklist to get your yard ready for winter season. Contact your local Spring-Green if you need help, Spring will return in only 5 months.