Making Fall Yard Care Manageable

Today’s guest author is Nina Hiatt. Nina researches and writes articles to help people find balance and beauty in their personal space through landscape and interior design. In her free time, Nina blogs about many of her interests, which include gardening, technology news, and baking.

If fall yard care conjures up slapstick images of raking the leaves over and over again in a futile attempt to keep your lawn clear, you’re not alone—but you are probably wrong. Yard care doesn’t have to be as hard as humorists make it look.

Look at all those leaves!
Look at all those leaves!

Roses and Other Tender Perennials

Serious rose gardeners probably have this down pat, but some of you gardeners out there may be first-time rose growers or casual planters who’ve decided you want the lovely little guys around again next year. That’s fantastic!

Keep the plants healthy at the end of the season by heavily pruning them back to stimulate new growth next year. Depending on the variety, you may need to wrap them or make additional preparations for the coming frost—so do your online research and you should have your roses back again next season!

Floribunda Rose
Floribunda Rose

Other tender perennials can be overwintered in some parts of the country depending upon your USDA zone. For example, in Shenandoah’s zone 6b, dahlias, canna lilies, and gladiolas will often make it through the winters if heavily mulched.

The Vegetable and Fruit Patch

Some of the vegetables and fruit you plant in your climate should be hardy enough to last the winters, but delicate plants may require special care. Late sowings of lettuce, spinach, chard, chinese cabbage, parsley, as well as onions, garlic, and asparagus are all great into December.

You may need to wrap them with unused plastic garbage bags, lay down compost, or take other measures to prevent delicate fruit or vegetable-bearers from freezing and dying. It all depends on your climate zone and what you’ve decided to plant. For example, in Shenandoah’s USDA zone 6b, she has to be especially careful about protecting her fig tree, which she has planted up close to the house, but might need extra mulching and other protection for a severe winter season.

Raspberries will overwinter fine with just a light mulch cover
Raspberries will overwinter fine with just a light mulch cover

Getting Ready for Next Year

You’ll also want to look into getting some things ready for next spring—for instance, if you’ve always want tulips, hyacinths, or crocus, now is the perfect time to get what you want! Research exotic looking bulb-based blooms in your favorite colors, then order the bulbs you like best from your local greenhouse or a catalog.

Other bulb-based plants you need to decide on now include garlic, onions, and daffodils.

Plant the bulbs of these plants now for a sweet surprise this coming spring!

Nothing like the sight and scent of daffys in the spring!
Nothing like the sight and scent of daffys in the spring!


Pruning any tree is important, but it’s especially important for those of you arbor-lovers with trees that (a) bear fruit or (b) have large branches that could break under heavy snow and crush things you don’t want crushed; one snow-laden branch in the wrong place could just ruin your best-laid garden shed plans!

Either prune the tree yourself or hire a pruning service to come to your house. Professional Pruners should know how to best prune the various types of trees you may have in your yard in order to maximize growth or minimize possible damage to your possessions. However, you may be able to do this yourself; the guideline here is to be honest about your own skill level. We have posted about tree pruning, so you might want to check it out!

Some jobs need a professional
Some jobs need a professional


And now we come the autumn bane of a gardener’s existence—that pile of leaves your trees shed in the fall like a dandruff-ridden person unaware of their own flaky head.

So why do we even try keeping up with the leaves? There are a number of reasons; it may be the pressure you feel from other homeowners to keep the lawn—and by extension the neighborhood in general—looking well-cared-for. This is more than just some type-A social pressure; a cared-for home deters burglars.

Of course, it is also for the lawn’s sake; piles of leaves can kill your lawn in patches if the grass hasn’t already gone dormant for the year. Plus, if leaves get soaking wet, they can rot and stink—and nobody wants that.

Your choice of what to do next depends on your activity level and the size of your lawn. The exercise necessary to get those leaves into piles, bags, and eventually the garbage can, may be beneficial and can count as your daily recommended dose of physical activity. However, if you live on a lot that has an area of more than one acre, this probably isn’t feasible (half-acre lots are exhausting enough).

So why not put those crisp, crackling leaves to work for you? Go over them with your push or riding lawnmower. This will get the little buggers into a fertilizer-consistency chunky powder, then decompose into the soil and nourish your lawn, no raking required!

Bare trees with green grass below - a lovely sight!
Bare trees with green grass below – a lovely sight!

Now wasn’t that simple?


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