What should I do in my yard before it snows?

IMG_2707     Every October there comes a day that you walk outside and feel a change in the crisp air that reminds you winter is coming.  By months end the tree leaves will have changed through all their brilliant colors and  fallen to the ground.  The birds will migrate and the bugs will be finding a warm spot to hide for the winter.  Nature instinctively knows how to prepare for winter but do we?

Just in case it is not instinctive I have put together a list of the things I like to work on before the snow flies.

1. Mow your lawn

I know you mow all year so why would I recommend it now?  The colder weather  has not gone unnoticed by your lawn.  The grass is starting to go dormant and has stopped growing as fast as it has earlier in the year.  There are a few reasons I feel it is important to mow now.  The main reason I mow is so that I can bag the leaves.  During the year I prefer to mulch rather than bag my grass clipping.   If your lawnmower mulches leaves to a fine powder it can be beneficial to much the leaves as well.  My lawnmower does not chop the leaves finely enough so I bag this time of year.

I also lower my mowing height.  Mowing shorter does not really benefit the lawn but it keeps it looking better longer I never know when my last mowing of the year will be but I would like it to look nice all winter long.

2. Kill the weeds

Fall is by far the best time to kill your weeds.  Most of the weeds are also in survival mode this time of year.  Instead of growing they are releasing seed or bulking up their roots to make it through the winter.  Many plants like field bind weed (frequently incorrectly labeled Morning Glory) are easiest to kill now.  If weeds are poisoned before their leaves drop the poison will frequently be pushed down into the roots along with the energy the weeds counting on to survive the winter.  The poison can then kill the whole plant so it does not come back.  If you prefer to avoid chemicals just make sure to pull weeds before they can drop their seeds.

3. Control your pests

It is the perfect time to control a lot of the pest that you have been dealing with over the last year.  Grubs and other creepy crawlers are just settling down for their long winters nap.  Before they do they will feast on your yard.  You may not need to use pesticide but if you have been fighting grubs all year it is time to win the battle.  Once the grubs dig in you will not be able to kill them.

Other critters like mice are looking for a warm home, you don’t want your home to become their home.  Putting traps in your garage or around your chicken coop can help prevent them from making it inside.

4. Clean up the garden

It may be tempting to stay inside where it is warm and wait till spring to deal with the garden but this is a mistake.  Preparing your garden in the fall will allow you to get an early start in the spring.  Pulling out last years crops and tilling in compost for next year will leave your garden ready to plant in the spring.  It is often difficult to prepare the garden in early spring because the ground is often too wet.  You never know what challenges the spring will bring so get out there and take care of it now.

5. Plant

Fall is a perfect time for planting.  Trees and perennials often do best when they are planted in the fall. It is also a great time do find deals in deals while nurseries are clearing out their stalk.  As long as the ground is not frozen you can continue to plant.  For a beautiful spring garden now is the time to plant bulbs.  Crocuses are often the first flowers to bloom in the summer sometimes even popping up through the snow.  Tulips and Daffodils come shortly after but they can all be planted now for a beautiful spring.

6. Fertilize

If you have forgotten to fertilize your lawn all year this is the time to do it.  The fall fertilization  is the most important for the year.   It seems counter intuitive to fertilize at a time when the lawn is ready to go dormant.  When the lawn goes dormant and brown it does not mean that it has died.  The lawn like trees are just losing their leaves and sending the nutrients to their roots.  Feeding your grass at this time of year will help the roots grow and will help your lawn come back green and healthy in the spring.

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