Autumn is no time to ignore your lawn and landscape.
What you do now will determine the quality of your yard next spring and summer.
Here is a checklist.
1. Keep mowing. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter.
However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the season.
2. Aerate your lawn. Compressed soil hurts grass health. Aerating creates holes in the soil and lets oxygen, water, and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.
3. Mulch your leaves. Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.
4. Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chainsaws, or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs, and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines, and not in danger of falling on a home or structure in winter weather. You may need to tie or brace limbs of upright evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.
5. Repair bald spots. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture (found at most garden shops and home centers). Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.
6. Ready your outdoor power equipment for winter storage. Drain fuel tanks before storing your lawnmower, leaf blower or string trimmer for the winter. Service and winterize your outdoor power equipment.