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Preparing for Fall: A Checklist for Your Lawn and Garden

Come fall, Mother Nature gets busy shutting down your lawn and garden. You can work alongside her, chipping in with some tasks that will help them settle in for a long winter’s nap and bring the green back to all its glory come spring. Use this checklist to help get your lawn and garden ready for fall and winter. We’ve made it an easy download for you to print off and use.

Fall lawn with leaves

The last heat of summer may have left your lawn looking like more like a desert than a lush golf course. No matter how it looks, your lawn is hard at work during the fall stocking up on nutrients and energy to get through winter and prepare for spring. Here’s how you can help:

Cut grass short

Gradually lower your mower height as the mowing season winds down, finishing off with a nice, close cut. Shorter blade height helps prevent snow mold or fungus from developing.


Grass growth may be slowing down, but the roots are still hard at it. A good feeding of fertilizer goes to the roots, helping them grow deeper, making for a strong spring start.

Eliminate weeds

Like grass roots, weed roots are best hit in the fall for the spring lawn you want. Apply weed killer before the snow flies to help keep the weeds from returning come spring.

Seed bare spots

Fall’s cooler temperatures are perfect for nurturing new grass. If you’ve treated for weeds, wait three to four weeks after to plant seed.


Pulling out plugs of soil with aeration helps a compacted lawn loosen up, letting grass roots spread out and grow deeper and stronger.

Remove leaves

Get those leaves raked into a pile worthy of hours of play before you bag them up or spread them for composting. You also can recycle their goodness by mowing and mulching them.

Fall garden flowers

Fruit, vegetable and flower production may be winding down, but you can start preparing for their launch next spring. Follow this checklist to help your garden get its beauty rest.

Divide and plant

Fall is a great time to divide spring- and summer-blooming perennials. Use a sharp spade to break them into smaller clumps that you can plant in new spots.

Fall’s cooler temperatures are ideal for planting or transplanting trees and shrubs. Pansies, mums and ornamental kale can also flourish in the cooler temps, giving you a burst of color as the rest of the outdoor world turns brown. And don’t forget to plant your spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinth.

Keep watering

Send your perennials, trees and flowering shrubs to bed with a good drink to help them get through dry winters.

Dig up

Tender bulbs like canna, dahlia and gladiolus don’t like the winter any more than Florida snowbirds. Dig them up and store them in a cool, dry spot such as a basement. Don’t forget to harvest your root crops like carrots, turnips and beets, too, before the ground freezes.

Cut back

You can help mums and perennials make it through winter by cutting them back after a few hard frosts. When the foliage has died, cut away diseased foliage and cut the stems to three to four inches. Pull dead annuals and vegetables and feed them to your compost pile. Toss diseased plants in the trash.

Pull weeds

Yes, weeds fade away with cooler temperatures, but pulling them in the fall eliminates reseeding and spreading when they wake up in spring.

Till the soil

Gently turn the soil to rouse grubs of Japanese beetles or other insects that plan to burrow underground until waking up to pester you in the spring.

Feed and cover

Feed the soil all winter by digging compost in. (Shred and use those leaves you’ve raked!) Tuck the garden, beds and over-wintering plants in with a blanket of mulch. (Those leaves come in handy again!)

Want to move your gardening inside? Here’s a starter guide on container gardening.


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