With summer unofficially coming to an end with Labor Day weekend, it’s time to start fall yard work and preparing for winter. Here are 10 things to do now that will help prevent damage and get a jumpstart on a great yard come spring and summer.

Weed, Seed, and Feed Your Lawn

Want a green, lush lawn next year? Now is the time to lay the groundwork. Start by removing weeds to minimize competition for nutrients and water among them and the grass. If you have some bald spots or areas that are in need of some TLC, now is the time to seed those areas. Aerate or rake the area to remove dead grass and loosen the soil for seeds to sink in, then add the seeds. You’ll want to keep the area wet so the seeds can properly set into the soil and take. Finally, fertilize the lawn with a fall fertilizer to help your lawn develop a stronger root system over winter. That, in turn, leads to a healthier, more lush lawn in the spring.

Mow the Lawn a Final Time

Before winter sets in, lower your mower to a low setting and give the lawn one final mow. A shorter lawn helps the soil dry out quicker in spring, which helps promote healthy growth.

Remove Leaves

If you have trees, raking leaves is probably one of your least favorite projects, but it is necessary to ensure the health of your lawn (not to mention looking better). Lawns need to breathe, and that’s much harder to do with a thick layer of leaves on it. Leaves are also a barrier to water and nutrients that are needed for a healthy lawn. In addition, a layer of leaves can invite unwanted pests looking for a place to settle in for the winter, and it can be a breading ground for disease that damage lawns. But what if raking isn’t your thing? There are a couple of other ways to remove leaves. You can use a blower to get them off the lawn. Or turn on the mower and use that as a sort of vacuum. A bonus to using the mower is the cut-up leaves are great to use as mulch in your yard.

Add Mulch to Beds

Speaking of mulch, mulch will add a layer of protection to the roots of perennials, shrubs, and trees by helping insulate them. This will help ensure healthy, strong growth in the spring and help prevent disease. If you have particularly sensitive plants, you may also want to wrap the bottoms in cloth to further insulate them.

Dead Head Plants and Flowers

Get ahead of spring work by removing dead stalks, leaves, and flowers off of plants. This will help promote healthier growth come next year. Now is also a good time to divide and move any spring blooming plants to other beds in your yard.

Winterize Trees and Shrubs

Start by cutting back and trimming shrubs and trees to remove dead parts that could break under the weight of winter. If you have trees or shrubs with fragile branches, stabilize and/or cover them to prevent heavy snow build-up and the potential of breakage. Also, make sure you are still watering them properly: Limit watering in early autumn before leaves fall off to harden them, then give them a good, deep watering after leaves fall off to give them enough water to make it through the winter. This deep watering should include under the entire canopy area and beyond to cover the entire root area.

Winterize Sprinklers, Drip Systems, Hoses, and Faucets

Water freezing in pipes, hoses, faucets, and other parts of your sprinkler system can create a big headache for you come spring. Before the first freeze, take the time to properly winterize your sprinklers, drip systems, hoses, and outdoor faucets to prevent damage. Need help with winterizing sprinklers? Check out our easy to follow video here. Be sure you also drain any drip systems completely, disconnect all hoses, and insulate any exposed pipes and exterior water faucets to prevent them from freezing.

Clean Out Gutters

Not all fall yard work is necessarily in the yard. With leaves falling and other debris that may have collected, now is the perfect time to clean your gutters out to ensure proper drainage and prevent damage. You can use a small garden trowel to clear blockages, then flush gutters with a hose to rinse any small particles out.

Protect Your Deck

To prevent mold and mildew growth, power wash your deck now. If your deck is wood, wait for it to fully dry then add a weatherproofing stain to protect it from moisture damage over the winter.

Fill Cracks in Concrete

If you have any cracks in your concrete, now is the time to fill them. Water can get inside cracks, and when temperatures drop, that moisture can turn to ice. That in turn can expand and cause the cracks to further grow. Use a waterproof concrete caulk, which will seal up the crack and help prevent water from getting under concrete.

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