YOUR COMPLETE FALL YARD CLEANUP CHECKLIST
Fall is the perfect time for cozy flannels, pumpkin carving...and lawn chores. While there’s plenty to get done, the fall weather is perfect for working outside. If you’re still struggling to get off the couch, we’ve made it easy to get started with this complete checklist of fall yard cleanup tasks. Make your way through the list and set yourself up for a gorgeous yard in the spring.
1. CLEAN UP GARDEN BEDS
This step can sometimes be the most daunting, which is why it’s nice to get it out of the way first! Grab a yard waste bag and start pulling out spent annuals, veggies, and weeds. Cut perennials down to ground level and get rid of all the fallen leaves and other debris on the soil surface. Once the beds are cleaned up, enrich the soil with fresh compost, turning to incorporate. Finally, spread a layer of mulch over perennials and shrubs to protect them through the winter.
2. RAKE THOSE LEAVES
Raking is an inevitable chore during the fall in Indianapolis, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself. One way is to rake smaller amounts of leaves more often to stay on top of it bit by bit. Another method is to use a mulching lawnmower with a bag to suck up the leaves while giving your lawn a trim. The mulch can then be composted—the green clippings and brown leaves are a great combination in the composter! If you don’t have a mower with a bag, try using ergonomic rakes which can help you scoop up leaves faster than the traditional version.
Over time, a later of dead grass naturally accumulates between the soil and live grass. If this layer gets too thick, it can become a breeding ground for insects and disease and prevent grass seeds from germinating. Early fall is a good time to dethatch if you need to. You can check your thatch layer by pulling up a sample of your lawn with a shovel in a hidden corner. If the thatch layer is thicker than ¾ of an inch, use a thatching rake to break it up and dispose of it in lawn waste bags.
4. AERATE THE LAWN
Over time, the soil in your lawn grows gradually more compacted as gravity, rain, and foot traffic beat down on it. Aeration helps invigorate the soil by improving airflow below the surface. This lets oxygen in and creates channels for your grass seed and fertilizer to penetrate below the thatch layer. You can hire a lawn care service to aerate your lawn for you or pick up a manual aerator at our garden center.
5. APPLY FALL LAWN FERTILIZER
If you really want a lush, carpet-like lawn in the spring, a fall fertilizer application is essential. Since the goal of fertilizing in the fall is to help your lawn save up nutrients that will help it grow vigorously next year, your fall lawn fertilizer formula should be a little different than the one you use in the spring. Opt for a high-phosphorus, granular fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 12-25-12.
6. CLEAR OUT YOUR GUTTERS
While this is probably nobody’s favorite task, it’s essential to clear out your rain gutters at least once per year to prevent drainage issues in the home’s foundation. The best time to clear them out is in late fall when most of the leaves have already fallen. Once the leaves have been removed, there won’t be many more to follow and your gutters should be clean and clear to channel away rain and melting snow.
7. CLEAN & SEAL YOUR DECK
You might want to save this one for after you’ve finished clearing your gutters. Porous decking materials, like wood, can get pretty tired-looking after an active summer. Use a pressure washer to clean out all the dirt stuck in the wood—including all that gutter gunk. Let the deck dry for 24-48 hours before applying a new coat of stain (if needed) and one of two coats of sealer to protect the wood through the winter.
8. GIVE SHRUBS AND TREES A LIGHT CLEANUP
A light cleanup, not a full prune! While you should wait until spring to give your shrubs and trees a thorough pruning, there’s no sense in leaving dead or diseased branches on through the winter. With clean and disinfected shears or loppers, clip off any twigs or branches that are doing your shrub more harm than good.
9. DRAIN IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
What do you get when you mix a garden hoses and pipes with freezing water? An expensive, preventable problem. There’s no guarantee we won’t get an early frost this year in Indianapolis, so get this done sooner than later! Turn off any water valves to your outdoor irrigation equipment and get standing water out as soon as possible. Use the drain valves on sprinkler systems and an air compressor on your garden hoses to empty them of excess water.
10. DRAIN YOUR WATER FEATURES
Like irrigation systems, water features are at risk of damage if they aren’t stored properly for the winter. Drain all tubing and bring pumps inside. Make sure to give them a thorough wash before storing indoors. Scrub the inside of the water feature and finish by covering it with a tarp.
11. MOW THE LAWN ONE MORE TIME
Make sure your lawn is nice and trimmed before the snow arrives. This will prevent rodents from building nests under the long, tangled blades of grass and thick layer of snow.
If you tackle one or two of these tasks every week, your yard should be in pristine condition by the time the snow arrives. You’ll also enjoy much easier cleanup and a thriving lawn and garden after the snow melts. Need some equipment? You can find all the materials you need to get through this checklist at our garden centre in Indianapolis.