Top Five Tips to Get Your Yard Ready for Fall

The National Association of Landscape Professionals shares easy tips for winterizing and maintaining your lawn and plants ahead of colder weather

HERNDON, Va., September 14, 2015 — Many people think of spring and summer as the most active seasons for landscaping maintenance, but the truth is fall is an important time to protect yards and plants from the colder months ahead. Especially in cold climates, trees, grass, shrubs and plants can benefit from extra care before the temperature drops to ensure they will survive the winter and thrive again in the spring.

“It’s a common misconception that just because most plants and gardens aren’t actively blooming in the fall, they don’t require maintenance during the colder months,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “Many homeowners work hard all spring and summer to care for their yards and gardens, only to let them languish once colder weather arrives. Luckily, there are some simple steps that homeowners can take this fall to care for and winterize their lawns and landscapes – and ‘plant the seeds’ for a beautiful yard next spring.”

NALP recommends the following steps to get yards ready this fall:

  1. Start planting.

Fall is the time to plant flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, as well as perennials, trees and shrubs. The warm soil is great for root development and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.

  1. Rake and remove leaves to avoid damage to grass.

Doing so also can protect water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass, plants and other organic debris to release soluble forms of phosphate (and nitrates). If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring snow melt and early spring rains, they can end up in surface water.

  1. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch.

Installing mulch in the fall is beneficial in protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures in the winter months and also helps to preserve moisture if the region does not receive enough precipitation.

  1. Wrap plants and smaller trees.

Many plant varieties like roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles can be damaged by sub-freezing temperatures. To provide plants with extra protection from the wind and cold, wrap them in burlap or a frost protection fabric and plant them along a building or fence that offers wind protection.

  1. Apply fertilizer to your lawn in early fall.

Look for a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn's needs and follow application instructions on the product. The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, on weight basis. If you aren’t sure what your lawn needs, consult with a lawn care or landscape professional. A soil test can determine what ratio is best for your lawn. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, as some locations regulate the time of year that fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff.

For more tips on fall lawn and landscape care, or to find a qualified landscape professional in your area, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

About NALP

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (formerly PLANET) represents an industry that employs nearly 1 million landscape, lawn care, irrigation and tree care professionals who create and maintain healthy green spaces for the benefit of society and the environment. For more information, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

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