Carved pumpkins, sweater weather, and gorgeous leaves are all things we associate with autumn. But when in comes to fall there’s something else to consider: Your lawn. The steps you take now during the fall months will determine the health of your lawn for seasons to come. By adhering to a handful of simple tips, you can greatly increase the chances you’ll experience a thriving, productive lawn once spring rolls around. Here’s 7 essential lawn and garden tips for fall.
Keep Watering and Mowing
It might come as a surprise, but during fall you should continue to water and mow your lawn more or less as usual. In general, it’s a good idea to lower your mower’s cutting setting to approximately 2 inches in height, as shorter grass tends to fare better in autumn (shorter grass means more sunlight exposure, which makes for a healthier lawn).
Aerate the Soil
Oxygen, water, and fertilizer cannot penetrate the soil if it’s too tightly compacted. That’s where aeration comes in—and fall is the perfect time to do it. By puncturing holes in your lawn, and removing plugs of soil here and there, you give your yard the opportunity to absorb any surface nutrients it might have otherwise been missing. Tip: for best results, fertilize just after aerating your lawn.
An even blanket of dry fertilizer applied in mid to late fall is a smart way to ensure a healthier, more productive lawn through the rest of the year. We recommend going organic with your fertilizer if at all possible.
Rake Up Those Leaves
As fallen leaves pile up on your lawn, they begin to choke the life out of your greenery. Robbed of oxygen and sunlight, the soil becomes less and less fertile. To give your lawn the best chance of flourishing in spring, keep it free of leaves through the fall and winter months.
Use Plant-Based Pest Control
Making your yard inhospitable to pests will save your lawn considerable damage during the fall months. We recommend treating your yard with a non-toxic outdoor pesticide. Here’s how to do it:
- Thoroughly spray the entire yard. Be sure to spray all hedges, shrubbery, flower gardens, bases of trees, and anywhere else bugs might hide.
- When spraying, pay special attention to the perimeter of your yard and home, including all fencing, foundations and brick barriers. This will prevent bugs from entering your yard or home after treatment.
- During the fall months, we advise spraying your yard at least once every 4-6 weeks, or more as needed
Cedarwood chips can also be used to create a repellent perimeter around your lawn and home. Simply sprinkle the chips along your home’s foundation and fence line, as well as any other insect trouble areas.
Kill the Weeds
Weeds are most vulnerable to herbicides in fall. If you’re hoping to finally conquer those pesky weeds, now’s the time. Be cautious when choosing an herbicide, however, as most are extremely toxic and unsafe for pets, people and the environment. Tip: Go with a non-toxic alternative instead.
Fill in the Bald Spots
Thick, healthier lawns are less susceptible to harmful pests and weeds—and filling in your yard’s bald spots is one of the easiest ways to achieve a healthier lawn. In fall, the ground is still warm, there’s plenty of moisture and there’s less direct sunlight drying out the soil, so seeds are more likely to take hold now than summer or spring. We recommend consulting a lawn and garden store regarding your specific grass and soil types, but in general an all-in-one organic repair mixture is the most convenient option for naturally filling in bald spots.
It’s well documented that gardening is beneficial for both mental and physical health. Which is great news for those with ample lawn space, but not so great news for those living in cramped urban landscapes. Urban Gardening—essentially, just gardening in urban spaces like apartments—is a way for those without yard space to enjoy the rewarding and therapeutic qualities of gardening. Because of the decreased sunlight and limited square footage associated with urban environments, an urban garden can be an intimidating and difficult project to start. But with a little know-how, some careful planning, and several visits to your local garden center, you can have a flourishing urban garden in no time. Here’s some tips to get you started.
Survey Your Space
How much space do you have—just room for containers like pots, or enough sq. footage for a garden bed or box? How much sunlight does your growing space receive each day? Do you want flowers, or something you’ll actually eat, like vegetables and herbs? These are the questions that will determine what type of garden you can grow, and how best to do it. Taking careful notes on sun exposure, physical space, and the types of plants you’re hoping to grow are important initial steps to planning your first urban garden. If you decide to consult a gardening professional (which we recommend), these notes will be essential in helping you both determine what growing methods are right for you and your space.
Pick A Growing Method
There are three main approaches to urban gardening: raised bed gardening, square foot gardening, and container gardening. Sunlight availability and the physical limitations of your growing space will determine which method is best for you. Here’s a short outline of each approach:
Raised Bed Gardening—If you have adequate space, this method affords the closest experience to traditional gardening. Raised bed gardening consists of isolating your plants using a large, raised container made from wood or brick. This approach offers additional protection from pests and elements like wind due to its elevated exterior. Raised bed gardening also allows for dense planting, and is a great choice for heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers.
Square Foot Gardening—If you’re looking togrow as many plants/vegetables as possible in your small space, square foot gardening might be the option for you. While not entirely different from raised bed gardening, this popular approach uses strict guidelines, specific soil mixtures, and a carefully measured spacing grid to make the most efficient use of your limited growing space. For specifics, visit squarefootgardening.com.
Container Gardening—If space is your biggest concern, container gardening—which requires the least effort, space, and setup—is likely your best bet. Using containers like small pots, this method allows you to grow various sorts of low maintenance plants within a limited amount of physical space. However, because you’re planting in a pot and not the earth, this approach will require that you water and fertilize your plants more often. For more info on these growing methods, click here.
Choose the Right Soil
Because urban soils are typically filled with debris like rocks and sand, and tend to lack the required nutrients, organic potting mix is generally your best option. As far as fertilizer, organic is also the way to go. In addition to the known health risks associated with chemical-based growing practices, synthetic blends like Miracle Grow tend to overfill your garden with nitrogen, which can in turn attract more pests and reduce fruit and vegetable output. We recommend consulting your local garden center or nursery to determine exactly which organic growing mediums and fertilizers are right for you.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
The unique combination of your growing space’s size and exposure to sunlight will determine what plants can flourish in your urban garden. While choosing the exact right plants is best left to you and your local garden center, the following are low-maintenance plants that tend to do well in urban conditions, where sunlight and space are in short supply:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
For more info on growing vegetables in your urban garden, click here.
Go Natural With Your Pest Control
Synthetic, chemical-based pesticides are dangerous to pets, people and the environment. Choosing natural methods for killing and repelling insects is not only more environmentally sustainable, but healthier for your garden, too. Healthier plants are more resistant to disease and the effects of garden pests, so consistent watering and organic fertilizers are the first step to safeguarding your urban garden against damaging bugs like mites and moths.
While there are many effective approaches to natural pest control, an eco-friendly, outdoor pesticide is the easiest and most hassle-free option. (Tip: when choosing a ready-to-use all natural pesticide, be sure that it’s both plant-safe and water-soluble).
Looking for an outdoor pest control solution?
We offer two: PCO Choice and Yardsafe. Click here to learn the difference.