Fall Cleaning Checklist



As the trees shed their foliage, you’ll want to rake regularly to help remove dead leaves and other debris that will smother the grass and prevent growth. Organic waste like leaves and weeds can provide a haven for pests like mice and groundhogs. In addition to having little critters running in your yard, excessive yard debris can cause damage to your yard’s drainage, which can cause a problem once all the snow melts.

Here a few fall yard cleanup tips to help you keep your leaf piles under control:

Best Ways to Remove Leaves from Yard
  • Use a Tarp: Rake all your leaves onto a tarp for easier hauling to the curb or compost pile.
  • Rake into Rows: If you’re bagging your leaves, it’s better to rake them into rows instead of piles. The leaves can be separated into more manageable portions at the end of the row.
  • Use Leaves as Lawn Fertilizer: Before the snow starts to fall, you can run your lawn mower over the fallen leaves to shred them into tiny flakes. They will settle into the autumn grass and decompose into natural fertilizer.

Take Out Dead Shrubs and Trees

Now that a full season of sunshine has passed, have you noticed any shrubs in your yard that didn’t seem to grow the way you had hoped? Check for signs of life by scratching the bark at the base to see if there is any green under there. If no green appears under the bark, it might be dead.

If the tree or shrub is completely dead, it’s best to cut it down and dig it out before the ground hardens. But you don’t have to mourn for too long – fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs for maximum growth.

Tips for Cleaning Out Dead Trees and Shrubs in the Fall
  • Cut Your Tree During the Dormant Season: Once the leaves have fallen off during late fall and early winter, it is much easier for arborist to cut and handle. The hard ground during the colder season will help ensure other trees and shrubs stay in place.
  • Don’t Do It All in One Day: There’s no need to rush your fall yard cleanup. Just as seasons change slowly, you should also take it slow and avoid trying to clean everything up in one day.
  • Rent a Dumpster: Planning a full landscaping overhaul? Using a roll off dumpster to dispose of large branches, stumps, bushes and other bulky yard debris is a lot easier than hauling them to the dump yourself.
  • Winterizing Shrubs and Trees
  • Late summer and early fall offer an excellent opportunity to trim back any dead or dying branches from your larger shrubs and trees. Trees especially should be inspected for any branches that could prove a problem during winter storms. If you have large trees with limbs that need removal, arrange with a professional landscaping service to help you cut down and dispose of these.

Don’t Stop Mowing Just Yet

Fall yard maintenance is all about helping your lawn finish strong so that it can withstand the bitter temperatures ahead. It’s important to continue watering and mowing your lawn as needed. Once the season draws to a close and the temperature begins to drop, you should set your mower’s blades to their lowest setting for the last two cuts of the season. This will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and allow the soil to dry out faster in the spring.

Grass grows more slowly as the temperature drops, and once the temperature of the air reaches approximately 40 degrees, lawn growth will cease altogether. So get the grass mown one last time for the season so that the shorter blades are less likely to offer a late-season breeding ground for mold or fungus. Give the grass one last fertilizing as well; it won’t make a lot of difference now, but the extra feeding will mean that your grass will be greener and healthier once it starts its spring growth.

Pro Fall Yard Care Tip: Only cut your grass if it is still growing. Once the temperatures consistently drop below 50 degrees during the day, it’s time to put away the mower for the season.

Aerate the Lawn

Aerating your lawn can remove thatch, alleviate soil compaction and beautify your grass overall. Having excess thatch or heavy organic debris under the grassy surface can starve the roots from essential elements like air and water. Experts say the best time to aerate your lawn is in the fall during the growing season. Grass can heal and fill open areas more quickly once soil plugs are removed.

The easiest way to aerate your lawn is to purchase or rent a gas-powered aerator from your local hardware store. Smaller lawns can be aerated using spiked lawn aerator shoes, but for lawns bigger than three acres, you might want to hire a landscaper instead of spending an entire afternoon digging holes yourself.

Treat For Weeds And Fertilize

November is a great time to have the lawn treated for weeds. All the weeds we see in the spring (think dandelions, clover, etc..) germinate in the fall. It is much easier to control these weeds right now before they become a problem. Our lawn care department has always noted how much cleaner of weeds fall treated lawns are than those that we only treat in the spring. 

Fertilizing the lawn with a quick release nitrogen heavy fertilizer is also a great idea in the fall. The temperatures have cooled to the point that the grass isn’t growing much. The soil is warm enough still that roots are still storing energy in the form of carbohydrates. The lawn needs sunlight, water and nutrients to do this most effectively. 

Most landscaping experts would agree that, if you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. Why? Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. A fall application of fertilizer provides essential nutrients for the growth of deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.

It’s easy to forget about our lawns with winter rapidly approaching. However, a quality lawn does not need less care in the fall just because the grass grows more slowly. In fact, just the opposite is true. During the fall months, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Given a little attention now, your lawn will thank you in the spring with healthy new growth!

There is no better feeling than strolling around your neighborhood with a sense of pride knowing that your grass is the greenest and lushest of them all. Accomplishing this feat does not come easy and requires some additional ingredients beyond just water and sunshine. Fall’s cooler temperatures and morning dew provide the perfect setting to fertilize your lawn to regain strength from the stressful summer heat.

Mulch Around Plants and Trees

Mulching around plants in the fall season has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds. Be sure to give perennials and cool-weather annuals a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch to keep them healthy during the cold season. Applying mulch in the fall can also act as a weed suppressant, leaving you with no weeds to pull in the spring.

Pro Fall Yard Care Tip: Save money by using organic mulches like pine needles, straw, sawdust, fallen leaves, and grass clippings to introduce essential nutrients into the soil.

Rake Over Bald Spots

Is your lawn looking a little patchy? Fall is also a great time to handle any bare, bald spots on your lawn. The easiest way to handle the dead areas in your lawn is to pick up an all-in-one lawn repair mixture from your local home improvement or lawn care store. This solution usually contains a mixture of grass seed, fertilizer, and organic mulch.

Don’t Forget About Garden Maintenance

Caring for your garden in the fall will make all the difference when you go to plant your produce in the spring again. Before the cold temperatures harden the ground, remove all weeds and debris to eliminate enticing homes for insects and diseases in the winter. Water your garden plants diligently and they will be thanking you all winter long. You might want to consider trimming perennial vegetables and herbs back a few inches once the ground is frozen.

Get A Compost Pile Started

What should you do with all of the leaf litter, dead flowers and weeds, twigs, and other organic material from your fall cleanup? Start composting, of course! While the bulk of composting won’t be complete until the weather warms back up, a fall yard cleanup is an ideal time to start your own compost pile!

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