Fall Landscape To-Do List

This is the perfect season to tend to your landscape before winter arrives. Here are some tips to help you improve your overall appeal and create an improved growing environment for your plants and turf.

  • Clean landscape beds of weeds, debris, and leaves. Apply a light layer of mulch after the ground has frozen to protect plants from heaving, which is an upwards swelling of the soil during freezing conditions.
  • Fall is also a great time to divide crowded perennials. When plants go dormant, dig up and divide.
  • Aerate your lawn. Fall is the best time to aerate, overseed and fertilize the lawn. The temperatures are favorable for grass seed to germinate.
  • Plant fall bulbs. Daffodils, crocus, tulips, alliums, hyacinths, and others are best planted in the fall. In the spring you will reap the rewards when these plants emerge and bloom.
  • Deer tend to enjoy the landscape more in the winter as snow may cover their natural food sources. Place the bird-netting on the landscape before snowfall occurs to minimize negative deer impacts.
  • A lot of plants need to be pruned in the winter; it’s a good time to see branch structure. Some plants should not be pruned in the fall, so check with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office if you are unsure when you begin to prune.
  • Remove any dead plants from your vegetable gardens. Pests and disease will overwinter in the garden and resurface in the spring.
  • Add organic matter to your garden beds and landscape beds. If you compost, Fall is a great time to add compost to the soil as it will move through the soil with the heave-thaw cycle.
  • Clean your garden tools. Fall is a good time to clean tools to remove any diseases that might be hitching a ride on your gear. You can use one part rubbing alcohol to nine parts water to clean your tools. Be sure to rinse completely off and dry before storing.
  • Protect cold-sensitive plants such as figs and palms by either installing a burlap screen (or burlap staked) around the plant and fill the space between the burlap and plant with straw to provide warmth and protection in case of a harsh winter.
  • Raise the height on the mower for that last mowing so your lawn has enough “food” to sustain it through the winter.
  • Bring in your hoses, containers subject to cracks, and fountains. Also don’t forget to drain spigots and turn off outside water sources.

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