Ask an Expert: Five Fall Must-Do Yard Tasks

    Ask an Expert: Five Fall Must-Do Yard Tasks

    Fall Yard TasksWith autumn here, it’s time to think about getting the yard ready for winter. Consider the following tasks that will help your yard be healthy and happy next spring.

    1.  Remove leaves by raking, mowing or vacuuming with a leaf blower. Mowing and vacuuming chop up leaves and reduce the bulk so more fits into leaf bags or compost piles. The reduced bulk also makes it easier to mix leaves into the soil. Do not send them to the landfill, as they are valuable for improving the soil and easy to compost. Instead, send them to green waste or check with neighbors who might be able to use them.

    2.  Early to mid-fall is a great time to spray lawn weeds such as dandelions and harder-to-kill perennial weeds such as field bindweed (morning glory). There are many products that are registered for spraying on the lawn, but if you need to spray in the garden, avoid contamination by making sure all produce is removed and you are done for the year. As always, read and follow all product labels.

    3. Just after the first hard frost is the best time to cut back annuals and perennials. Foliage will be scorched and yellow or brown. Cut perennials a few inches above the ground and do the same with annuals, or pull them out completely. If the removed foliage is not diseased, compost it or send it to green waste. If it is diseased, throw it away. This is also a good time to apply 1-3 inches of compost to flowerbeds. If there is risk of damage to existing plant roots, the compost does not need to be tilled in.

    4.  The final lawn mowing should occur between late October and early November. Lower the mowing height to around 2 inches. This helps slow the spread of winter-active fungal diseases such as snow mold. It is also important to remove all leaf litter from the lawn.

    5.  If the lawn had moderate-to-heavy traffic during the summer, fall is a great time to fertilize. The lawn stores nutrients and will break dormancy sooner in the spring. There are many standard and organic fertilizer options available. Follow the instructions on the bag.

    One thing you should not do in the fall is heavy pruning of woody plants. Pruning delays dormancy and can make these much more susceptible to winter damage. Instead, between mid and late winter is a much better time to prune ornamental trees. Prune most flowering and fruit-bearing trees in late winter or early spring. If shrubs do not flower or they flower in the summer, prune in late winter. Spring flowering shrubs such as snowball bush, bridal wreath, lilac, etc., should be pruned as soon as they are done blooming in the spring.

     

    By: Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu
    Published on: Oct 06, 2016

    Related Articles

    Ask an Expert: Slithering Snakes Spotted in Parks and Lawns

    Ask an Expert: Slithering Snakes Spotted in Parks and Lawns

    Just in time for Halloween, an increased number of snakes have recently been reported in lawns, golf courses and city parks. Aside from callers being spooked by an unexpected encounter with a snake, they are also concerned about the snakes harming them, their children or taking up residence in their homes.

    Read More
    New Low-Water Landscaping Book Released by USU Extension

    New Low-Water Landscaping Book Released by USU Extension

    Utah State University Extension recently released "Combinations for Conservation." The landscaping book provides examples of plant combinations that have been successful in low-water gardens throughout the Intermountain West.

    Read More
    Upcoming USU Extension Grafting Workshops

    Upcoming USU Extension Grafting Workshops

    Grafting is the age-old practice of joining plants to specific root systems to get the desirable benefits of both parts. USU Extension provides several upcoming workshops to teach the science and techniques of grafting.

    Read More