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Fall Gardens

Tree, Shrub and Lawn Care

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Picture of autumn pumpkins in field.

Picture of autumn pumpkins in a field.

David Beaulieu

Fall gardens represent the culmination of months of human work, months of plant growth. As such, you need to make a conscious effort to enjoy them to the fullest. While the spring landscape holds the seeds (literally) of a fresh start and thus carries a certain excitement of its own, the garden in autumn holds a trump card: it's called the "harvest," the sights, smells and tastes of which are not to be missed for anything.

But the autumn also brings with it some chores that we must perform before the arrival of winter. Below is an FAQ that will:

  1. Remind you of what needs doing in the yard during autumn
  2. Explain why this work is necessary
  3. Instruct you as to how best to perform these tasks

Work to be Done Around the Fall Garden, Lawn

You've had a long summer of mowing the lawn, pruning shrubs watering trees, maintaining your perennials, etc. You're ready for a break, come autumn, right? Well, not so fast! There are a number of recommended tasks to perform in the fall garden. I'll get the most obvious (deceptively obvious) one out of the way first, even though you'll have to hold off on this one until after you've performed most of the other tasks:

Q.--
What is the most easily overlooked chore in fall gardens?

OK, here's another task that is not at all obvious (at least to beginners). Everyone knows that you have to water grass and other plants in summer. Anyone who doesn't already know this will find out soon: try skipping on watering your lawn some summer, and you'll wind up with dead grass. But what about when summer's heat passes? I deal with watering trees and shrubs later in this FAQ, but regarding watering lawns, click the following link:

Q.--
With all the snow we'll be getting this winter, I don't have to water my autumn lawn, do I?

Watering the lawn is one thing. But what about mowing in fall. Do you finally get a break from mowing in autumn? And if not, the question is:

Q.--
How long into the fall season should I continue to mow the lawn?

Yet another question about autumn lawn care follows. Lawns are a lot of work, aren't they? That's why I'm all for killing grass to convert lawn areas into planting beds for perennials and shrubs. But if you're a lawn holdout, you'll want the answer to this question:

Q.--
How high should grass be cut in autumn?

At least leaf raking is relegated to autumn (it's not maintenance work that you must perform continuously over a period of months). I like the look of autumn leaves: they provide a great backdrop for my Halloween decorations. While it's all right to keep leaves around in fall gardens, the lawn is another matter:

Q.--
Why is it necessary to rake leaves off the lawn?

Again, having a big lawn impinges on your free time. Wouldn't you rather be out snapping fall foliage pictures than scraping leaves off your grass? I would. But the natural follow-up to the prior question is:

Q.--
How long can you let leaves sit on the grass before raking?

The leaf blower vs. leaf rake debate will largely come down to personal preferences. But the answer to the following question will give you something to chew on if you're trying to decide which camp you fall into:

Q.--
Are there advantages to using leaf rakes versus using leaf blowers?

If you're forced to cut back on your leaf peeping activities in autumn thanks to having to rake leaves, at least do it right. Don't just go through the motions. Ask yourself this:

Q.--
Is there a right and wrong way to rake the leaves off the lawn in autumn?

Many of us would rather be working in the fall garden than worrying about lawn weeds in autumn; we might even cultivate edible weeds. But if you're serious about battling weeds in your yard, this question will probably occur to you:

Q.--
What about using lawn herbicides or pulling weeds? Is it too late once autumn comes to be concerned with any weeds growing on my lawn?

Ah, retiring the mower for another year: a blessed moment, in some ways (although, I must admit, as tired as I am of mowing after doing it all summer, I hardly look forward to wielding a snow shovel). But unless you think putting the mower to rest is as easy as opening the outdoor storage shed door and shoving it in, you'll want the answer to the following question:

Q.--
When it's time to stop mowing around my fall gardens and I get ready to store the lawn mower away for the winter, is there anything special I should do to it?

The next 4 questions share a theme: preparing the plants in your fall garden for winter (this is where you'll learn about watering trees and shrubs in autumn):

So far, we've been talking about working around the fall garden and making sure our grass is prepared to be "put to bed." But now we really stare right into the gaping jaws of Old Man Winter. That's right: we'll soon be dealing once again with snow removal. You'll want to learn the answer to this question if you wish to get your snowblower in tip-top shape:

Q.--
What snowblower maintenance should I perform to prepare my snowblower for its upcoming winter's work?

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