Fall Yard Cleanup 101

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Fall is that lovely time of year where everyone is transitioning toward cooler, more enjoyable temperatures. This is a perfect invitation to spend some time outside your house where you can get a head start on some yard chores, going into winter feeling prepared and even into spring with less work on your hands.

Follow this guide of 10 outdoor chores that are best to do in fall!

1. Gather Winter Supplies

Think shovels, salt, and window scrapers. Unearth all those essential winter supplies so when the first snow rolls around, you aren't panicking to find everything you need to face the outdoors. Taking an inventory will also give you plenty of time to stock up on any supplies you may be short on before winter strikes.

2. Plant Fall Bulbs

Planting bulbs in a garden.

Planting bulbs in fall is one of the best ways to get tons of color in spring. Not only are they cost-effective as far as landscaping goes, but they're easy to tuck between perennials as you clear your garden beds. A general rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to dig a hole twice as deep as the bulb is long and put the bulb in pointy side up. Consider planting deer-resistant varieties like daffodils, or sprinkle a repellent while planting to keep critters at bay. Plant in clusters of three or five to get the best colorful impact.

3. Mulch With Fallen Leaves

Use those raked up leaves as a natural mulch by going over them with your mower and spreading them around your outdoor plants. If you don't have an abundance of leaves, consider a bark mulch that will insulate your tender perennials through winter. This is also a great time to top dress your plants with compost and water them deeply so they can take in nutrients going into the harsher months.

4. Revamp Vegetable Beds

A close-up of lettuce.

Summer is not the only time to have fresh food growing in your backyard. In fact, there's tons of food you can keep growing and extend even further with the use of cold frames and row covers. Try starting some lettuce, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, turnips, radishes, garlic, and beets. In fact, the cold weather makes many vegetables taste sweeter—a great addition to a Thanksgiving meal.

5. Replace Outdoor Light Bulbs

As the days get shorter, the nights get darker, sooner. Having fresh light bulbs outdoors will make your home safer this time of year as you come home from work in the dark.

6. Feed the Lawn

A man shoveling mulch in a garden.

Fall is the best time to reseed and feed your lawn. The grass stores nutrients through the winter so feeding it now will mean your spring lawn will look green and beautiful. Look for grass seed that does well in your area. Use topsoil and straw to hold down the seed in bare patches. If your fall lawn is already well-established, give it a balanced feed with a spreader for an easy boost.

7. Start Cover Cropping

If you enjoy growing vegetables, or even if you have an area of yard that is totally depleted or eroded, try cover cropping. Cover crops are a great way to give extra nutrients to areas that are in resting. Many people with community gardens benefit from this "green mulch" because their plots would otherwise be big bare patches. Cold winter gusts of wind wear away at the soil and give it less good stuff to work with the following spring. Different cover crops offer different benefits to the soil, so evaluate what your soil is lacking first with a soil test. It's also important to cut cover crops down right before, or right as they start, to flower. This is an essential step because they will otherwise continue to reproduce and take over an area. It's one of the best ways to give beneficial organic matter back to the soil.

8. Cut and Compost

A man with work gloves pruning a plant.

Every plant has unique pruning requirements, but a good rule of thumb is "If it's brown, cut it down." If a plant is still green, it's likely still using those leaves to store nutrients. However, if the plant has a bunch of brown, dead foliage, it's fine to cut it down. This makes your life easier come spring and will also make your garden look tidy. You can add that brown matter into the compost pile to use in the spring, as well.

9. Clean Gutters

The dreaded clearing of the gutters after a harsh snow storm is made even worse when they're filled with mushy leaves, too. An early cleanup after all the leaves have fallen will make this process easy, keep water running off, and make for less work in the long run.

10. Apply Wilt Pruf to Sensitive Plants

Some plants are very vulnerable to extreme winter temperatures. Sometimes this includes any new plantings that didn't have enough time to put their roots down before the ground froze. This is a great reason to apply Wilt Pruf. The product is made from an all-natural protective coating which seals in moisture for the leaves that often dehydrate or get winter burn during cold weather. It's also great to have around if you want your Christmas tree to last a bit longer. Simply apply it to the needles before bringing the tree into the house and watch the difference in how your tree holds up this year! For outdoor plants, spray tops and bottoms of foliage before your first freeze.