This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in October 2013.
Just when the grass stops growing two inches a week and you think your biggest outdoor project is wrangling all the fallen leaves into bags for garbage pickup, you realize that you could be doing a little bit more to prepare for winter. Here’s how. (I promise: Your yard will thank you immediately, and come springtime, you’ll be happy you did it.)
1. Choose a powerful leaf blower.
If you’re overwhelmed at the idea of clearing leaves from a large yard, forget the rake and invest in a leaf blower. I outlined many available retail options for leaf blowers in this post, and you’ll be happy to know that after I invested in a Ryobi Gas Powered Backpack Blower, it’s a chore no more.
2. Buzz-cut your grass.
Lower the blades gradually throughout October and take the grass down to 3/4-1″ in height.
It may be too late to get fresh seed to effectively grow in spots, but making the decision to aerate your lawn can be a great fall project to aid drainage, and to help what grass is there come back healthier and thicker next spring. Learn more about DIY aeration in this aeration article from HGTV Gardens too. (I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to rent an aerator vs. hiring a company to get the job done.)
This goes hand-in-hand with aerating. Choose a product and depending on the size of your lawn, spread the fertilizer by hand, by push machine or using a pull-behind trailer attachment. There are several best practices that you should follow when choosing when and how to fertilize, and if you’re overwhelmed with the many options on the market, this fertilization product guide should help you choose what’s right for you. (As a related point,amending your garden’s soil in the fall months by tilling, fertilizing and composting will help prep it for spring.)
5. Protect shrubs and small trees.
Deer and other wild animals are more likely to snack on your garden during the winter, when vegetation that they rely on all spring and summer fall dormant. Loosely attach burlap or netting around each bush to help keep it safe and healthy during the winter months.