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Fall Yard Tips from a Smithsonian Gardner



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Take advantage of the cooler fall temps this month and spend some time in your new yard. Establishing a new yard and nurturing it to thrive can take a bit of effort so get a head-start before winter hits and come spring you’ll head into prime yardwork season with a lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood.  Follow these tips from Jeff Schneider, head horticulturist at the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington DC.  He advises HouseLogic that it’s best to invest in your yard in the fall:  “Fall is the biggest missed opportunity, all the money you spend on your lawn, you should spend in the fall.”  Here are seven other recommendations that he makes to get ahead of the game:


1.)  Revive Your Grass. Your lawn often takes a hit during the summer months when it is most likely to get heavy traffic across it.  This traffic essentially compacts it.  The best fix is to aerate.  Aeration will serve two purposes, both to reduce compaction and the holes will provide a haven for new seeds to germinate. Depending on your time, budget and willingness you can rent an aeration machine pretty inexpensively or you can hire a lawn care company to do it for you.  


2.)  Fertilize and reseed.  Falling temps provide a good time for lawns to expand their roots. Root systems will expand all the way into December!  This is the perfect time to minimize any bare spots in your yard with some fertilizer.  You will be able to welcome in the spring with a lush lawn crying out for your lawn mower!


3.)  Plant Trees!  Trees are a great investment that will likely boost your home’s worth.  Like your lawn, trees like cooler fall temps to expand their roots: this is the perfect time for new trees to become established prior to the winter. Spring temps aren’t as conducive because higher temperatures can causes the trees stress prior to them establishing roots.


4.)  Put down the rake. This should be music to your ears… stop raking! Instead, mow and shred your yard full of leaves. They will proceed to decompose over the winter months and will feed your lawn.  Schneider recommends:  “If they’re not too thick, I run them over with the mower and leave them in place...If you still can’t see at least 50% of your turf after you chop them up, rake up the rest.”  Any leaves you rake up can be run through a shredder and then composted to future fertilizer.


5.)  Check out your tree branches.  When leaves are turning color and falling from the trees it’s easy to inspect spot sick or dead limbs; they’ll be the ones with no leaves. You’ll definitely want these branches out of here before next hurricane season where they can do some serious damage. Removing them will also help promote growth in the spring.  


6.)  Plant some flowers.  Improve curb appeal with some fall with some cooler weather fall annuals. Just because color is fading out of the landscape doesn’t mean that your yard has to follow suit. Pansies, mums and violas are some classic choices that will add a pop of color.


7.)  Establish some garden goals.  Use the time to envision your yard as you would like it to be and develop a “to-do” list for when the weather warms up in the spring. When spring does come, you’ll appreciate all of the prep you’ve done this fall!


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Filed under: Home Maintenance


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