If the feel of fall in the air has pulled you indoors and away from your yard, it might be a good time to take a final walk through your landscape. Many of us still see fallen leaves, veggie garden debris and a few containers with annuals now brown and crisp.
While the weather remains moderate, this weekend is a great time to finish the job of prepping the yard for the cold and snowy months ahead. Leaves and other debris can harbor unwanted insects and lead to mold, fungus and other disease problems. Planting next spring will also be more of a joy if you start with a clean slate.
Checklist for fall yard and garden cleanup:
#1 – Remember to care for wildlife.
- Leave some plants that provide winter food for birds and other wildlife – like sunflowers, Echinacea and ornamental grasses. By offering food, you’ll also enjoy seeing wildlife frequenting your yard.
Provide a watering place for birds and after a freeze, remember to remove ice and replace it with fresh water. Locate your watering hole in a place that’s convenient to access in the winter. If you don’t have to tromp across a snowy yard, you’ll be more likely to maintain it.
#2 – Clean-up reminders
- Dig up dahlia bulbs and store them in a dry place over the winter where they won’t freeze.
- Pick up and remove all dead fruit and veggies from the ground. When cleaning up garden debris, know which plants are best to pitch in the compost pile-and which ones are not.
- Do compost leaves, grass clippings, straw, non-diseased plant debris and weeds if they have not gone to seed.
- Avoid composting any plants which are diseased. Because tomato plants often carry diseases, some gardeners avoid composting them altogether. Also avoid composting large pumpkin and squash vines because they take too long to decompose. Weeds with seeds on them should not be composted.
- Compost or recycle as much of the debris as possible to avoid sending it to the landfill.
#3 – Tuck in the garden
Add mulch over the garden to maintain soil quality. Use straw, a fresh layer of compost or grass clippings from the final lawn mowing. Mulch offers another head start on a productive garden next spring.