Many times winter can sneak up on us before we have time to finish up all those outdoor lawn and garden tasks that we had planned to complete. Other garden tasks are not as imperative and may be left for spring. I have put together a list of 5 basic lawn and garden tasks that should be a priority before the snow flies.
1. Leaf clean up. Remove the leaves from the grass. This is an important step for the overall health of your lawn. If left through the winter the leaves get wet and heavy, and can lead to dead patches in the spring. Leaf piles can also become a home for mice and other pests. If you don't like raking you may want to use your lawn mower to mulch leaves right into the lawn. Again be careful not to leave heavy clumps on the grass. Mulched leaves can be picked up with a bagger and placed in your compost pile or spread over your garden.
2. Put away your garden tools. First give them a good washing in some warm water. Now is a good time to sharpen pruning shears and garden tools. Remove any rust with a piece of sand paper or wire brush. After metal parts are all cleaned rub a coat of boiled linseed oil over them to help protect from rusting. Coating wooden handles to help preserve them as well. Hang up tools or stow in your shed for winter.
3. Drain and store garden hoses. This is important if you don't want to buy a new hose every spring. If you can take advantage of a sunny fall day that makes this chore even easier. Unhook your garden hoses and lay it out flat on the ground. You will need to blow out the hoses to ensure that water is not trapped inside. If you don't want to get out the air compressor then you can roll up the hose keeping one end higher than the other. As you roll it up the water will drain out the other end. Put drained hoses in to storage for the winter. If you have irrigation systems or rain barrels remember to winterize them as well.
4. Mow your lawn. Continue to mow your lawn until it goes dormant. Then mid fall mow one final time before the first snow fall. Leave the final height of the grass about 2". This allows the sun to reach the roots and helps prevent damage from voles and other pests. Rake up any final debris or leaves. The work you do now will promote a healthier lawn next spring.
5. Empty your outdoor planters. If planters are going to be left outside it is important to ensure that water does not get trapped inside and then freeze. This could spell disaster for your pots. Also you want to avoid overwintering diseases that can spread to next years plantings. I recommend removing all soil and plant materials. Add the debris to your compost pile. Use a stiff brush to clean out the pots before washing with a mild detergent and warm water. Allow pots to dry then store upside down on a wood plank or put into storage. Don't forget to flip over bird baths too.
So that is 5 tasks that you can do this fall to benefit you next spring.Maybe you have a regular must do fall task that I did not list here? Please share it with us in the comments.