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Taking care of your lawn and garden in the fall simplifies your spring maintenance. Fall’s warm, dry soil and cooler air temperatures make it easier to work your garden and lawn. Turning dry soil and seedlings is less of an effort now than working with spring’s heavy mud. According to gardening expert Paul James, the ideal time to start your work is about six weeks before the first hard freeze.
1. Spruce It Up
Clean out the remains of old annuals, dried stems and other unsightly debris in flowerbeds. Getting rid of dead plants helps destroy harmful insects and helps prevent the spread of disease during the spring growing season. Remove dieback from perennials and cut their stems to within an inch or two of the ground. Consider mulching to prevent winter injuries.
2. Plant Bulbs
Fall is the ideal time to get tulips, daffodils, crocus and other bulbs into the ground when it’s cool but before it freezes. In the South, where you may not have a hard freeze, the Farmer’s Almanac suggests planting bulbs in early November. Loosen the soil first and add organic nutrients. Check a zone chart to see when and what to plant in your region.
3. Mow Low
Continue to water your lawn whenever it’s dry. Mow the lawn with the blade on its lowest setting to help the sun reach the crown of the grass.
4. Feed the Grass
Most grass is classified as either “cool season” for northern climates, or “warm season,” for southern regions. However, you may live in a transitional region that is home to both types. If you’re not sure what to feed your grass, call in a lawn-care expert like TruGreen® to make sure your lawn is getting the right mix of nutrients. You can also get a soil test, which helps determine the soil pH and nutrient levels and provides recommendations for fertilizing.
5. Enrich the Soil
Soil is a plant’s source of nutrients. Fall provides an abundant source to help improve the organic layer of your soil—leaves! Shredding them and spreading a 2"- 4" deep layer creates natural compost that will enrich the soil over the winter. You can also add grass clippings to the leaves.
6. Wipe Out Weeds
Fall is the best time to get rid of those pesky dandelions, clover, crabgrass and other weeds. Apply weed preventer in spray or granular form when the soil is moist and the air temperature is moderate. A layer of mulch also helps keep weeds to a minimum.
7. Rake and Dethatch
Early fall is a great time to rid your lawn of layers of plant debris. This allows your lawn to breathe by removing excess organic debris that can restrict water and airflow.