It would be easy to just go into winter mode at the first sign of fall because the snow will soon cover your landscape and you won’t have to look at it until spring. You may not like what you see in spring, however, and it’ll probably cost you money as well.
Last week, I touched on how brutal winter can be on trees. It can also be brutal on patio furniture and other hardscape items. So be sure to tend to the hardscapes. Move them under shelter or cover them.
Resist the temptation to let leaves overwinter where they fall. When the snow melts, they’ll still be right where they fell so you’ll have to rake them up when they’re saturated with snow melt. And, you won’t like the look of the lawn underneath. Leaves left on grass trap water between the leaves and grass and this is the environment that fungal diseases love. When you pull the leaves away in spring, you may be greeted with big patches of brown or gray dead grass. The only fix is expensive, time consuming renovation.
Waiting until all the leaves fall before raking or blowing them can lighten your fall workload. If you rake before all the leaves are off the trees, you’ll only have to do it again after the last leaf falls.
In addition to removing leaves from your lawn, cutting the grass short for the last mowing of the season will reduce conditions that lead to fungal diseases. We advocate mowing at a cutting deck height of at least three inches during the growing season. For the last mowing, however, you should lower it to two or two-and-a-half inches. Higher grass tends to matte down under the weight of snow and it holds water like a sponge, creating the perfect environment for fungi.
I wrote about winter mulching a couple of weeks ago, so you know that I’m a big proponent of applying up to four inches of double ground wood chip mulch to help insulate the roots of your trees, shrubs and perennials.
Finally, if you didn’t get around to planting that tree or shrub you wanted, take heart. There’s still time. You can plant until the ground freezes. You can also plant spring flowering bulbs right up until the ground freezes.
Do all of the things proposed above and you can enjoy the winter season secure in the knowledge that you won’t be burdened with held-over tasks next spring. You can do normal spring clean up of debris that has blown into your yard over the winter, remove excess mulch and tree wraps, and then go right into your normal spring routine.