Best Practices

Grass becomes dormant on most lawns in late summer or early fall. Even as temperatures fall, I pay close attention to my landscaping. Prepping plants for winter, leaf removal and general clean-up throughout mulch beds, garden and lawn are important.

Mowing in the Fall is important

  • Lower your cutting height – As days shorter and sunlight fades, shorter grass allows the most sun to reach the crown of the grass plants. Cooler autumn temperatures won’t harm the root system like the heat of summer. Lowering your mower’s cutting height incrementally during the fall prevents disease and keeps your lawn greener.
  • Continue mowing – Routinely mowing will ease your lawn’s transition into dormancy. Some cool season grass and weeds will continue to grow. Mowing and trimming your lawn will control the weeds. Another benefit is shorter grass is less prone to trap leaves and falling twigs against your lawn.
  • A clean lawn reduces pests from exploring your lawn. Squirrels, chipmunks and other pests can damage your lawn, garden and home. Mowing and properly dealing with leaves makes your property less appealing to these pesky critters.

Dealing with falling leaves and twigs

I love the beauty, shade and privacy my trees provide. The price of dealing with leaves in the fall is awfully steep. A few times a week through October and November I run the mower across my lawn, rake mulch beds and blow thousands of leaves into piles to compost.

  • Remove twigs after rain and windstorms. Twigs and other debris quickly damage grass by blocking sunlight. A common cause of damage to lawnmower belts, blades and wheels are unseen or compacted debris. Walking across your lawn and removing these items is a smart habit to adopt.
  • Clearing your mulch beds and lawn of fallen leaves is vital to protecting your grass and landscape plants. Follow a regular schedule based on your trees.
  • Stay ahead of the rain. Removing dry leaves from grass, mulch and even common areas like walkways and gutters is a chore. Dealing with wet, heavy leaves is a a frustrating and sometimes impossible task.
  • Put your leaves to use in your garden. Leaves will insulate and prevent erosion in your garden. Some gardeners tiller leaves in the fall. I prefer to place bags of finely mulched leaves atop my garden beds.
    • I pile all my leaves into a common area using a power blower and rake.
    • Using my lawnmower, I mulch the leaves and fill landscape bags.
    • The landscape bags contain the leaves against wind and winter mold. In the spring I incorporate the leaves into my compost and mulch.
  • We have some more great insights on how to mulch, bag and remove falling leaves. Click Here for our thoughts.

Echo You Can Tune Up Kits are on sale.

Time for a new Power Blower? Here’s our advice

Guarding Trees and Shrubs

  • Trim trees and bushes – The first step to healthy trees and shrub is regular trimming. Hand trimming is an option for small plants while gas powered hedgetrimmers quickly shape and repair large shrubs and hedgerows. Clean and tidy plants are better prepared for harsh weather ahead this winter.
  • Cleaning Mulch Beds – Fortifying your mulch beds in the fall is vital. Mulch beautifies your lawn but it also serves to regulate temperature and moisture around your trees, shrubs and flower beds.
  • Loosen compacted soil and mulch – Using a hand rake, loosen compacted soil and mulch especially near the roots of plants and trees. Pay attention to remove mulch from the root flare and plants. Compacted mulch may suffocate roots or trap moisture against otherwise healthy plants.
  • Use excess leaves – Mulch beds should be 2-3″ thick heading in the winter. A layer of fallen leaves under your wood mulch is a cheap and effective way to thicken mulch beds. Avoid using too many leaves though.
  • Remove excess mulch – Avoid mulch volcanoes especially around trees. Landscapers rarely remove mulch prior to adding fresh mulch. This results in large piles in the shape of volcanoes around tree trunks. The root flare should be visible at ground level.

Prepping your Lawn Mower for Fall

Our service department sees an abundance of snapped cables, broken belts and damaged engines in the fall. After a long mowing season, leaves and resurgent grass growth put strain on our lawnmowers. Many of these repairs can be caught early with some proper maintenance.

I encourage following our preseason checklist to inspect your lawnmower. Replacing worn items or simply ordering spare parts prevents downtime. Even a simple tune-up kit does wonders for revitalizing your lawn equipment.

Adding to your Landscape

Fall is a great time to plant bulbs, shrubs and many tree species. Cool temperatures and moist conditions provide a head start for roots to establish. The anticipation of blooms in the spring keeps me warm during those bitter winter months. Your local nursery will offer great deals in the fall and provide advice on the best plants for those trouble spots in your beds.

Preparing your Lawn for Winter

The health of your lawn next spring depends on how you prepare for the dormant months ahead.

Read more about Lumpy Lawns

Consider Feeding your Lawn before the winter

Learn about Lawn Aeration

Dispose of old Fuel

During the transition from mowing to fall clean up, cycle through fuel that has been in your containers and equipment for 30 days. This prevents fuel related issues with your equipment.

Removing your Snow Blower from Storage

For those of us in the north, winter is just around the corner. Follow our checklist to verify your snow equipment is ready for winter storms.

Tune-Up Equipment

Whether planning for weekend chores or preparing for the next storm, fall is the perfect time to tune up fall lawn equipment like hedgetrimmers, chainsaws and tillers. Sharpening blades or investing in a new mulching blades for leaf season should also be on the checklist. A sharp blade helps mulch leaves whether you bag or discharge across your grass, the finer the mulch the better your results. Caring for your lawn equipment makes chores easier.