Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist

Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist
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Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing color, and the faint smell of pumpkin spice is wafting through the air – hello, fall! With the arrival of autumn, it can be tempting to pack it in and get ready to hibernate for the cooler months ahead. But don’t hang up those tools just yet! We have a fall yard cleanup checklist for you to run through first. True or false: preparing your yard for the cold months ahead will help your lawn and garden thrive next spring. True! Spending the time to button up your yard this fall will pay off in spades – your grass will be lusher, your soil will have more nutrients and you can even avoid easily-prevented damage to your house from backed-up gutters. 


There’s a bit more work to be done – and here at Greenworks, we promise to make it simple and effective. Check out our eight essential steps to set your yard up for success in the chilly winter months ahead. Next spring, you’ll be thrilled at your fall cleanup results!

 

 

1. Clean Up Fallen Leaves

It’s the hallmark of the season (that’s why we call it fall, after all!): falling leaves. A colorful leaf blanket might look lovely in the fall, but once leaves get heavy from rain or snow, they can suffocate your grass throughout the winter. The result? A patchy lawn in the spring with dead spots. Fallen leaves also offer a cozy sanctuary for meddling pests like mice, chipmunks, squirrels and groundhogs throughout the winter. Yikes!


If you’d like a hard pass on those headaches, keep your yard clean and healthy by using a rake, blower, or lawn mower with a bagger attachment to effectively pick up dead leaves. And if you make a big pile of leaves and have an epic jump-fest with your kids before cleaning them up, good for you! Bonus points for sure. Mulched leaves can add a natural layer of fertilization to your garden, flower beds, compost and more – just make sure the leaves have been mulched into super-fine pieces before you start sprinkling.

 

2. Clear Your Gutters

Did you know cleaning your gutters is a frequently overlooked fall cleanup task? You want to keep your gutters clog-free all year to avoid water damage inside your house. Luckily, it should be a quick task if you routinely clean out gutters each season – especially with the Greenworks Universal Gutter Cleaning Kit.


First, a quick reminder of why gutters are important: they control the flow of rain, snow and sleet. Clean gutters help navigate rain and snow away from the house in a steady, controlled flow. Clogged gutters will slow down that flow, causing backups that can potentially damage your roof and foundation. No thanks! Ideally, you should clean out your gutters when most of the leaves have fallen. Take care to scoop out all the debris like leaves, branches, pine needles and more. If this debris stays in your gutter and then freezes, your gutters could cause ice damming or detach from your house from the extra weight. Regular gutter maintenance is crucial for your yard’s health and critical to avoid damaging your home.

 

 

3. Mow Before the First Frost

Your yard is a little bit like your hair – it’s better to gradually cut the grass shorter over time than chop it all off at once. Before the first frost of the season, mow your lawn a few times, adjusting the blade height to be slightly shorter with each mowing. The goal? A yard with the perfect balance of high and tight – about 2 - 2.5 inches long. 


A word of caution: there is such a thing as the “wrong” cut heading into winter. Mowing your lawn too short in cold weather can cause your grass to go into shock, while grass cut too long can develop snow mold (yes, snow mold is a thing!). The timing of the first frost depends on your local climate, so keep an eye on weather apps and the local news for frost warnings in your area. 

Mowing after a frost can also damage your lawn due to frozen moisture in the blades of grass - so if your yard is consistently covered in ice crystals when you wake up in the morning, it’s time to pack away your lawn mower for the season.

4. Aerate Your Soil

Raise your hand if you know what aerating is! We know it’s confusing – both the word itself and why you’d ever want to aerate your lawn. However, it’s a critical step for maintaining the health of your yard – so let’s dive in and learn a little bit more. 


The soil in your yard can become compacted, smothering the grass and making it difficult to get nutrients. To help your lawn breathe a bit more, the aeration process punches small holes into your yard to break up the soil. The goal is to prevent water from pooling and ensure nutrients can reach the grass roots during the cold winter months. Aerating leaves small dirt “plugs” across your lawn. While it can be tempting to rake up those plugs, don’t touch them! The plugs play a vital role in the health of your yard – they’ll break down within a week or two and provide your lawn with essential nutrients. If you really need to clean up the plugs, our Greenworks lawn care experts recommend mowing over the plugs at a low speed to ensure they’re mulched back into the yard.

 

 

5. Winterize Your Lawn

Just as bears need to stuff themselves before hibernation, your lawn needs to be winterized with the proper nutrients to help it survive the harsh winter. Head to your local lawn and garden store to find the best fall lawn fertilizer for your climate. Ironically, a “winter guard” fertilizer is the most important fertilizer you use all year – even more important than your first springtime application! 


Winterizer has a high nitrogen level to help feed your lawn throughout the winter months – so it emerges green, healthy and ready to grow in the spring. Trust us – it’s worth it! Winterizer packages might look a little confusing because they list nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratios – but that’s key to finding the right fit for your lawn. You’ll want to aim for about 2 - 2.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to ensure you’re maximizing root growth in the winter months.

 

 

6. Pressure Wash All the Things

Pressure washing keeps your outdoor spaces looking fresh while preventing the buildup of damaging mold and mildew. Plus, it’s so satisfying! Now is the time to get in one last power blast before the weather gets too cold – and with the Greenworks line of pressure washers, there’s a nozzle for every surface! 


Round up those outdoor rugs and patio furniture first to rinse off all the summer dust, dirt and pollen. While waiting for your furniture to dry, use your pressure washer to clean off your driveway, deck, front porch, fence and anything else that strikes your fancy (swingset? Basketball hoop? Bikes? The possibilities are endless!).

 

Just make sure this task is knocked out before the freezing temperatures set in. Not only is it not safe to pressure wash in chilly weather, it’s dangerous – the surfaces can freeze and you can damage your pressure washer.

7. Trim it Up

Have you been eyeing up a few rogue branches all summer, wondering if they’re growing a little too close to your house? If the answer is yes, it’s time to get out the pole trimmer or chainsaw and tidy up those tree limbs. Cold weather and heavy snow can cause weak tree limbs to snap easily – potentially taking out part of your roof. And remember – trimming branches on a nice fall day is a better – and safer! – option than an emergency trim in the middle of a blizzard. Take the time to trim any problematic branches that loom over your house, shed, electric lines or cars – it’s worth it. 


While you’re in Trim Mode, tackle any bushes that have grown a little unwieldy. A quick trim helps to keep your bushes, flowers and trees prepared for the harsh winter weather – and ensures that they’ll come back stronger than ever in the spring. A versatile hedge trimmer can help you get the job quickly for all those high and low hard-to-reach spots.

 

8. Clean and Store Tools

Now that your yard and house exterior are ready for winter, it’s time to put your tools to bed for a long winter’s nap. Store your tools indoors if possible, and clean off any noticeable dirt and debris to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. If you have battery-powered tools, store your batteries in a non-humid – and non-frozen! – environment. At Greenworks, we recommend our batteries and chargers stay above 41° Fahrenheit to maximize their lifespan and ability to hold a charge.

 

 

Congratulations – you’ve checked off all the items on your fall cleanup list! Rest easy knowing you’ve taken care of your yard and prepared it well for the months ahead. Bring it on, winter! We’re ready for you.

 

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