Thanksgiving is family time at our house, and family time means before we get turkey, there’s yard work to be done. While my sister almost always attempts to get out of it by offering to do laundry instead and my brother will not be joining us this year (the 6 hour bus trip is a little onerous I will admit), I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years from Homeservice Club contractors and my family about what can be done in the fall to make spring lawn and garden care as painless as possible.
Clean Out Debris
Fallen leaves and weeds are the perfect place for pests to settle in for the winter. Clear out flower beds to keep them away. Pay special attention to rose beds, if you have them, as their foliage can foster disease over the winter.
Beware Rogue Branches
Trim up any large or out-of-place tree branches that may cause trouble during the winter. You don’t want any branches breaking and falling during the snowfall and ice storms we’re bound to see again this winter.
Clean Out the Gutters
Not all fall cleanups are at ground level. This is the perfect time to clear leaves and other debris from rain gutters>. Check for proper drainage, clear out blockages with a garden trowel, and rinse with a hose. Try to resist the temptation to spray your siblings/cousins etc. while you’re at it.
Dry Everything Out
Drain all water from hoses, fountains and drip irrigation systems, and store equipment in a dry place. Water left standing over the winter can (and in my experience will) damage your gear.
As much fun as I thought it was to have miniature ice rinks in our backyard as a kid, it’s not so fun now that I’ve come to accept my severely off-set center of balance. Break up soil to keep water from pooling and guarantee that nutrients will reach all of the roots over the winter. A garden fork may do the job for small yards, but larger yards may require a professional.
Feed the Lawn
I’m much more focused on feeding myself than I am the grass this time of year, but this part is a necessary evil. Send your yard into winter with the nutrients it needs to survive the long, cold sleep. Add a fall lawn fertilizer with high phosphorous content to encourage root growth and enjoy a lush, green lawn come spring.
Rake and Mulch
Raking is my least favourite activity. Ask anyone; I really hate raking. My hands end up blistered, I feel like there are insects all over me, and frankly it’s tedious due to the size of our backyard. It is, however, very important not to let fallen leaves win! If left unattended they can suffocate your grass. Rake them up, shred them, and use them as mulch for young trees, shrubs, and flower beds. You might even be able to skip the raking part if you use a lawn mower to mulch the leaves in your yard. I’ve never managed to convince my Mom that this is something people do, but I’m hoping that the pro we hired this year will convince her otherwise.
Prune Trees and Shrubs
Trim any dead branches and cut back overgrown trees and bushes. If you have blooming perennials like clematis or roses, now is the ideal time to prune them and train the branches.
Give it one Last Mow
Set your mower to a low setting and give the lawn a close buzz before winter sets in. This helps the soil dry out more quickly in the spring, which leads to a more beautiful lawn all summer (if you do this yourself, make sure that the lawnmower is drained of gas before you store it away, trust me!).
Divide and Cut Back Perennials
If your perennials really took off this year, go ahead and spread the love. Divide plants and add them to other beds where they will also do well. This saves money and time in the spring. Fall-blooming perennials like chrysanthemums shouldn’t be divided now — wait and divide them in the spring.
Protect Cold-Sensitive Plants
– or Seriously Consider Getting Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing To Do It For You
When I moved into my first apartment, I was constantly calling home looking for ways to stretch the last of the things in my fridge. Now that I’ve managed that hurdle I find myself calling for balcony gardening advice instead.
Keep sensitive perennials, shrubs, and roses in top shape through the cold days of winter. Add mulch to the base and wrap plants in cloth barriers to prevent damage from freezing. Depending on the hardiness of the plant you can use a single sheet or blanket, or wrap them in a combination of cloth and plastic.
These are the things that we try to do every year – but everyone’s home and yard are different. I dragged my best friend with me to Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago, forgetting to mention that this is something we do, and I don’t think she’ll ever show her face at our house again. As my younger siblings move out of our family home one at a time the yard work does pile up a little more than I remember. Next year I’m going to try and convince the rest of them to either hire someone to deal with it or to complain a little less (if you guys are reading this I’ve suggested 3 contractors already – pick one.)
For now, I’m going to look forward to a weekend of baking, phone calls to my brother to make sure he isn’t working too hard, sleeping in, and checking the internal temperature of possessed oven every ten minutes once the turkey is in.
Definitely hiring someone to take care of that one soon.
Save $25 on fall clean up orders! Call 416-925-1111 to book now!