After the blooming season of summer, trees are full of beautiful, colorful leaves.
This beauty is short-lived, as fall is fast approaching and leaves wind up on your lawn. While young ones enjoy shuttling leaves around, they can make your property look shabby. They also create a good environment for pests to thrive.
With the harsh Chicago winters coming in, this becomes the perfect time to do a thorough fall clean up and prepare your property for cold, snowy winter months.
Why Fall Clean Up Is Necessary
You might wonder why you need to clean up yet your entire property will be covered in snow in a short while to come.
The seemingly harmless fallen leaves can create several issues:
· they cover your lawn grass depriving it of oxygen, which suffocates it
· Leaves also cover other plants and flowers depriving them of sunlight. When this happens, you begin to notice brownish patches on them
· the leaves lock in moisture on the plants underneath, which encourages fungi growth
· leaf piles can encourage springtime pets including moles, mice and voles
However, there is more to a fall clean up than just sweeping up dead leaves.
Here is a comprehensive fall clean-up to-do list.
Leaf clean up
Leaf litter is organic matter and provides pollinators with shelter during winter.
Nonetheless, a thick layer of leaves blocks both air and sunlight from reaching the grass and the vegetation underneath.
It can also encourage disease growth.
Similarly, if some of the leaves are diseased, the spores will re-infect other leaves come spring.
Once you have collected all your leaves in a central place, consider composting it to feed your lawn and garden later on.
Aerate and Dethatching Your Lawns
For properties with lawns, it’s essential to dethatch and aerate in fall.
Aeration is perforating the soil to lessen soil compaction. Compaction is when your soil is too dense that it becomes impossible or difficult for nutrients, water and air to move between its particles.
When you aerate your soil, you create small holes that air, nutrients and water to penetrate and get to the grassroots.
Another thing you might notice is yellowish-brownish grass lying under fresh growing grass. This is known as thatch.
When thatch builds up, it prevents the grassroots from receiving enough nutrients and water.
You can use either a spike or a plug aerator to aerate your soil. A rake can work just fine in dethatching your lawns.
Winterize Your Garden
This is yet another critical part of your fall yard clean up.
Winterizing your garden primes it to better withstand winter months.
To start off, check your gardens for diseased vegetables and flowers and remove them. You can discard or bury them at a spot in your property where they should remain under for at least a year.
This ensures they do not infect other plants.
For tender perennials, annuals and tropical plants, wait until after the hard first frost arrives. While the flowers are limp, remove the diseased plant bits and discard them as well.
Do not use any of the diseased leaves to make compost as doing so can potentially cause reinfection.
Clear Your Gutters
Depending on where your trees are located and how tall they are, you might have leaves in your gutters as well.
These can fill up your gutters, blocking runoff when winter comes. When gutters fail to drain, ice dams form, weighing them down.
This can cause mold, rot and even cause the gutter to fall, creating even more damage.
Use a leaf blower to remove all the leaves. You can also horse down the gutter to remove smaller leaf and branch debris.
Fertilize the Lawn
Summer months are utterly stressful to lawns. Fall then provides the perfect setting for lawns to rejuvenate.
However, while fall’s cooler temperatures naturally help your lawn do this, fertilizing at this time helps the process along.
Find a good winterizing fertilizer and apply before it gets too cold or freezes over.
If you intend to seed your lawn as well, ensure to weed it as well to give the new grass the chance to thrive.
There are excellent natural and organic weeding components you can safely use today.
Compost Healthy Leaves
Leftover leaves, grass clippings and other vegetable waste make for excellent organic, nutrient-rich compost.
To compost, you need browns, greens, moisture and air. Greens include grass clippings, fruit peels, annual weeds and vegetable waste.
Browns are fallen leaves, wood chippings, straw and sawdust.
You want to have 2 to 3 more browns than greens. You then mix these up with water and let the mixture cook into organic compost.
Avoid placing any diseased leaves or grass cuttings into the pile.
Trim Rogue Branches
If you missed out on some hanging, diseased or otherwise damaged branches in the summer, you should attend to them at this time.
The last thing you want is branches falling onto your roof, windows and patio during snowy, windy winter months.
Not only can these cause some extensive damage, but they can also injure a member of your household.
Get Your Tools Together
Drain all your irrigation systems, hoses and fountains as the retained water might cause some damage to them.
Drain the gas in your lawnmower as well and lubricate the parts that require it.
You also need to clean, dry and lubricate all your tools before storing them away in an area of your home that will remain dry and shielded over winter.
As you can see, a fall clean up does more than just make your property look tidy. It protects your lawns and gardens and ensures your plants flourish once winter is over.
Some actions that protect your gutter also help prevent damage to your house. While the list might seem intimidating at first, it’s actually not. Break up the tasks and schedule related tasks on the similar days. Once you get started, the clean-up will be sooner before you know it.
If you need extra help because of lack of time or because you have a big property to manage, do not hesitate to get help from a professional landscaping company such as R & G Almanza Landscape Inc in the Chicago area. They can perform the fall clean-up for you so you can use the extra time to deal with more important tasks.