Autumn can be the most beautiful time of year for many, and the transition from summer to winter is often an enjoyable stretch for homeowners to prepare their yards for those post-winter glory days.

There are plenty of autumn jobs that score huge dividends for the coming months—tasks that go beyond closing down gardens. We’ve gathered some of the most important points to address, whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring pro contractors or landscapers.

A man repairs and cleans out an eavestrough for fall yard work

1. Check eavestroughs, gutters, and downspouts

It doesn’t matter how little or how much snow you get where you live, all precipitation turns to water at some point, and that water can be a threat to your home if not addressed and routed away from problem spots. Your roof is your biggest skyward exposure and it acts as a collector. Sooner or later, snow will melt and run off, whether you live on Pelee Island or in Tuktoyaktuk. 

This means your eavestroughs, gutters, and downspouts must be cleared and operational. This is critical in locations where falling leaves and shedding needles can clog up water pathways. This sort of natural buildup can attract animals who nest there in dry conditions, adding to blockages. Many styles of gutter guards can help reduce your buildup, so perhaps this is the year to upgrade as you clean. It’s important, too, that the downward flow of water is also directed away from the foundation.

A woman plants tulip bulbs in the fall

2. Plant spring bulbs

Plant yourself a gift for spring. Daffodils, hyacinthus, irises, lilies, and tulips are all fall bulb plants that reward you the following spring. Each bulb has its own perfect planting time, and it takes just a few minutes to pop the bulbs into the ground. For example, tulip bulbs can only be planted once the soil has completely cooled down—think early October—and lilies should be planted at least four weeks before the first frost so they can put down roots before the ground is frozen. Then you can forget about them until you’re surrounded by spring blossoms. 

A man adds mulch to his backyward garden

3. Mulch it up

Perennials and cool-weather annuals will benefit from a little TLC before the cold weather really hits. Add a layer of mulch—about five centimeters—to help keep them healthy. The mulch not only helps prevent soil erosion, it can also help prevent weed growth in the spring.

A person aerates their lawn by walking with aeration shoe attachments

4. Aerate your lawn

This annual task is often done in the spring, but fall is another ideal time to break up soil compaction. Aerating both spring and fall isn’t excessive either, particularly if the yard is well-used. Aeration supports root development, a very important part of building a healthy, resilient lawn. You can hire someone to do this, or rent the machine yourself. They even make aeration shoe attachments so you can walk around the yard and get the job done quickly!

A man walking across the lawn laying fertilizer

5. Lay fertilizer

Another lawn root booster is a 4-1-2 (four parts nitrogen, one part phosphorous, two parts potassium) fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the year. The best lawns often see fertilizer applications several times through the summer, but if you do it just one time a year, fall will give you the biggest bang for your buck. 

A person pressure washing their deck before the winter months

6. Pressure wash the deck

No one wants mould and mildew growing on their deck, which is why pressure washing the wood before the winter months set in is a good idea. Once the deck is washed—and completely dry—you can add on a weatherproofing stain which can help prevent damage caused by snow buildup and removal. 

A person clears leaves from their yard into a plastic bag

7. Clear the leaves

Raking isn’t just for aesthetics. Leaving fallen leaves on your lawn over the winter can suffocate the grass and cause problems come springtime. If you don’t want to rake, or you don’t have anywhere to put the leaves once piled, you can also use a lawn mower which will mulch the leaves—from here you can add them to your garden and protect those perennials!

A man mowing a lawn to protect the grass for the winter

8. Prep the lawn

Some may think there’s no point in cutting the grass as the weather gets colder, since it’ll soon be buried under snow. But if you’re looking for a lush, green lawn once the snow melts, you’ll want to prepare it now! Give your lawn one last close cut before the first snow; it allows the soil to dry out more quickly in the spring, which leads to a thriving lawn. 

This is also the time to lay down grass seed so it can root and be ready for the spring. Look for cool-season grass seed, which will benefit from the still-warm soil and autumn rain fall.

A piece of patio furniture wrapped in tarp to protect against the winter weather

9. Pack the patio

You’ve spent time, effort, and more than a few dollars creating your backyard oasis. A little attention now extends the life of things like barbecues, patio furniture, and other features that might succumb to continued exposure to the elements. 

Clean and dry outdoor chairs and tables. If you have a garage or shed space, stack and cover pieces. Bring cushions indoors so critters aren’t tempted with nesting material. Large pieces may need to remain outside (think picnic tables). Wrap these tightly in well-tied tarps and give them as much shelter as your yard allows.

A woman prunes a rose bush in her backyard

10. Time to prune

Any trees, shrubs, or bushes that require regular pruning maintenance are usually best addressed in the fall. Identify dead branches on trees before they lose all their leaves. These can hide disease and insects that threaten the life of otherwise healthy trees. 

Shrubs, ornamental grasses, and rose bushes can all benefit from timely trims. Pay special attention to the front of the house, as careful pruning preserves your home’s curb appeal—always important if you’re considering a sale, but in general, pruning maintains a clean and cared-for appearance.

A man adjusts the celing fan in his home living area

Bonus: indoor tasks

Working outside is a great way to stretch the enjoyment of your yard before winter sets in, but you’ll want to spare some time for the haven in which you’ll ride out the colder months. 

  • Seal air leaks by replacing worn weatherstripping, and check door adjustments so seals are doing their jobs. Windows get the same treatment.
  • Change your furnace air filters since you no longer have the benefit of open windows to keep things fresh. This should be done every couple of months anyway, so you may as well add it to your fall yard work tasks and get everything done at once!
  • Install a smart home thermostat to take advantage of programmability and remote control. A spontaneous fall getaway is that much cosier if you know you can keep your home on overnight settings while you’re away.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans so they draw air up. This provides a better mix of room air without the cooling effect of blowing air down in the middle of the room. While you’re up there, give the blades a good dusting so you don’t circulate stale air.
  • If you’re in an older home with steam heat, bleed the radiators and be sure the steam vents aren’t painted over.
  • Since you’re already taking care of things around the home, use this time to check all the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If your detector is powered by a nine-volt battery, First Alert recommends changing it every six months. 

It may feel strange to do yard work in October to help you in March, but once you see the difference it makes you’ll absolutely understand the benefits!


Posted by Infinity Admin on


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