Haircuts, notebooks, new clothes, and early mornings—those are some of the many things that typically come along with the start of a new school year. Amidst the shuffle of back-to-school season, one important factor that’s not to be overlooked is lawn care. Just like your family, your yard deserves some attention before your fall routine falls into full swing.
Not only will giving your yard a fall facelift provide you with a clean slate for the new school year, but it’ll also simplify the maintenance you’ll face when spring is in bloom. It’s easier to work with your yard in the late summer and fall because the soil is still dry and warm. The soil’s light texture makes it easier to rejuvenate the earth than it will be when your ground is wet and heavy from a hard winter. The ideal time to start this prep work is about six weeks before the first freeze, which will vary by region, but typically lands around the beginning of the school year. Whether you live in a cold climate with lots of snow or never see a flake, cleaning up your yard as the seasons change will lead to a lush landscape come spring.
One of the first things to do is check your trees for hanging limbs that may have been displaced by summer thunderstorms. These limbs should be removed as they can be dangerous during after school playdates. The same goes for branches protruding from plants or creeping close to windows and entryways. These out-of-place limbs and branches should be removed for safety and appearance, but also because they can trap moisture and invite termites into your home.
When the larger plants are cleaned up, check for debris in your flowerbeds. After a long hot summer, annuals will likely die, and could act as a breeding ground for harmful insects that may spread disease in the spring. And while perennials should last from season to season, their stems need to be cut within an inch or two of the ground for prosperous growth in the coming year. To protect the remaining plant, you can mulch your flowerbeds to act as a barrier. Mulch will also protect flower bulbs, which are another great way to plan for a fresh and colorful spring. It’s best to plant bulbs in the fall before the ground freezes, so they can settle in and prepare to bloom at the first signs of warmer weather.
While it might be painful to cut your beautiful green grass any shorter than necessary as the summer closes, your lawn should be mowed with the blade on its lowest setting (usually one inch). This helps more of the individual blades’ surface area to absorb the sun’s rays and store more food in the roots, keeping them healthy and prepped for spring. But wait! Before you put the mower away, don’t forget to raise the blade so you don’t cut too much off during the first mow of the spring.
While sunlight will help produce food to get your grass through the winter, there are additional nutrients that can be added to maximize the pH and nutrient levels during the colder months. Our team can recommend the fertilizer best for your climate, which will encourage blade development straight from the root when it starts to grow again. If you plan to skip the grass and install sod in your yard, early fall is the best time to do so. Sod should be placed at least four weeks before the first expected frost so it can grow as intended and not be disturbed.
Another way to enrich the soil during its winter rest is by adding a layer of leaves to the surface once the trees in your yard are bare. A two to four-inch layer of shredded leaves acts as a natural compost and protective barrier to fend off snow, frost, and keep weeds at bay. Early fall is also the best time to get rid of those weeds and take steps to stop them from growing back in the spring. Spreading weed preventer or pre-emergent herbicide while the ground is still warm and moist will allow it to penetrate the soil’s surface to minimize the number of unwanted weeds that pop up in the spring.
Like weeds, vines can be unwanted and overwhelming when they’re not kept under control. Vines are known to trap moisture against the house, causing the mortar between bricks to break down. They also act as a bridge for unwanted insect visitors to get quick access to your windows and doors, and eventually inside your house. If you love the look of vines but want to keep your yard and house in good shape, install a trellis so they can grow without restriction or causing harm.
Now that you’ve given your lawn a chance to breathe by removing summer’s debris, it’s important to stay on top of raking leaves throughout the fall. Not unlike your students’ brains, the beginning of the school year is a crucial time for grass development. Keeping your yard free of leaves will help your grass receive sunlight and stay strong during the winter. If raking leaves exposes bare spots in your yard, tackle them with simple seeding. The cooler temperatures of fall help new blades grow quickly, as long as they’re adequately watered and left undisturbed. If you’d like to spare your hands the tax of raking and are interested in using leaves as fertilizer in the winter, you can mow on top of dry leaves to cut them in smaller pieces and let them lie.
As the seasons change, so will your preferences. Once your yard is refreshed and ready for the school year, we can help you adjust the color scheme on your property to match the cooler temps and vibrant colors that come along with a brand-new start. Give us a call today at (440) 543-0500.