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Fall Cleanup Tips

This summer has been hot and dry. You may have had it with your lawn. It’s natural. After summer winds down, the tendency is to put lawn care on the back burner until spring blooms anew. But by taking time to put your yard and landscape “to bed” in fall, your lawn will reap the rewards. Give your lawn a fresh start next spring by managing these fall cleanup tips.

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  1. Feed your lawn: Fertilizing in the fall is going to refuel and replenish your lawn after a long, hot summer. Fall fertilization will help maintain your lawn’s root health and replenish nutrients that were lost in the hot summer months. Fertilize before the night temperature is below 40 degrees.
  2. Air out the soil: Thatch build-up and foot traffic can compact soil, which cuts off oxygen and nutrient supply to the roots. Balding turf, matted-down grass, sparse new growth, tough ground are signs you need to aerate. A garden fork can do the job on your backyard.
  3. Level and reseed: Start spring on level ground by filling ruts and low spots where water collects now. Early fall is the best time to reseed your lawn.
  4. Pick up leaves: Fall cleanup will save time for gardening come spring, and clearing your lawn of leaves and sticks will prevent the heavy, wet foliage from suffocating the turf.
  5. Plant New Shrubs: In many parts of the country, planting shrubs in early fall gives the plants a head start at establishing roots in the season’s cool, moist soil.
  6. Cut Back Perennials: A little work now results in healthier spring beds: Trim spent perennial foliage down to the ground; this sends energy to the roots, for next season. Every three years, divide crowded tuberous plants, like irises and day-lilies: More space means more flowers.
  7. Mulch Young Plants: Give new beds a layer of mulch—chopped leaves, weed-free straw, or wood chips—after a light frost, but before the ground freezes. Apply a fresh 2- to 4-inch layer (any more will smother roots) to keep new plantings warm and to control water runoff and soil erosion.
  8. Mow Low: Make the last mowing of the season a short cut because you’ll retire lawn equipment until spring comes around again.
  9. Plant fall bulbs: Plant in fall to enjoy spring’s first blooms – crocus, daffodil, tulip. The best time to plant is after the first frost so the bulbs will stay cool all winter. Dig holes for bulbs and fertilize before replacing soil.
  10. Dry Out Drip Systems: Standing water can freeze and crack drip-irrigation tubing. To get the water out a simple solution is using a low pressure air hose to push the water out. 
  11. Decorate for the holidays: Fall is the time to think festive! Draw attention to your landscape with lighting, and find ways to incorporate a pop of color by filling containers with seasonal selections  such as mums for fall.

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