As we move into the fall season, it’s time to start thinking about giving your landscape a good cleanup to prepare for the long Edmonton winter. Luckily, autumn is the perfect time for doing yard work—we hardly need an excuse to get outside and enjoy the crisp air and changing scenery!
Complete this fall cleanup checklist for a neater yard today, and a healthier landscape in the spring.
1. Clean Your Eavestroughs
Falling leaves and branches can quickly back up your eavestroughs, causing serious drainage problems if left for too long. Clearing them out every autumn helps to prevent water from pooling around your home’s foundation.
2. Rake Up Yard Debris
It’s no surprise that fall leaf cleanup is one of the most time-consuming tasks on this list! The best way to clean up leaves is to use a mulching mower, which sucks them up into the bag while giving the lawn a nice trim. The mulch can then be composted and used for garden soil. However, if you don’t have a mulching mower, you can also pick up a pair of ergonomic rakes that make scooping and bagging leaves much faster than using a standard rake alone.
3. Aerate Your Lawn
In the Edmonton area, we have a lot of clay loam soils that are very prone to compaction. It’s important to aerate lawns around here to combat the drainage issues our properties are prone to. Aeration also helps fertilizer, grass seed, and oxygen work its way deeper into the sod. You can find manual lawn aeration tools at a local home and garden store, but there are also plenty of local lawn services who can aerate your lawn for you.
4. Fertilize Grass
Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will do wonders for improving the vigour of your lawn in early spring. The best lawn fertilizer for fall applications is a high-phosphorus blend with a 12-25-12 ratio. If it’s your first year fertilizing in the fall, you won’t believe the difference after the snow melts!
5. Pressure Wash & Seal Decking
Wood decking takes a beating over a long, frigid Alberta winter. The last thing you want is to wait all winter for the snow to melt, only to find your deck looking dull the moment it’s warm enough to lounge on. Give it a generous pressure wash for a good, thorough cleanup before applying 1-2 coats of deck sealer. Make sure you give your deck at least 24 hours to dry off before applying the sealant.
6. Clean & Prepare Garden Beds
If you’re a gardener, thorough garden cleanup in the fall will have huge implications for the success of next year’s plants. Around the time you expect the first frost, which in Edmonton could be as soon as mid-September, pull out all spent annuals, vegetable plants, and weeds. Cut perennials to ground level and dispose of all debris. Then, add a generous helping of compost to your garden soil and turn it well to mix it into the beds. Finally, apply a generous layer of mulch and/or landscaping fabric to new perennials and shrubs to keep those roots insulated.
7. Drain & Store Irrigation Systems
Leaving water trapped in hoses and irrigation systems is a recipe for bursting equipment. First, shut off the main valve for your outdoor faucets. Use an air compressor to empty water from rubber hoses, and use the drain valve on your sprinkler systems to clear water from the pipes.
8. Clean Up Shrubs and Trees
Fall is not the best time for thorough pruning, but if your trees or shrubs are looking unruly, a minor cleanup will improve the look of your winter landscape. Make sure to use the correct size of pruning shears or loppers for the plant you wish to prune, and always disinfect them before pruning each plant.
9. Give Your Lawn a Final Mow
Right before the snow flies, one last pass with the lawnmower will keep your lawn tidy. This prevents voles and mice from nesting in clumps of long grass under the layer of snow. It’ll also make dethatching much easier in the spring.
10. Drain your water Features
If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor water feature, properly closing it for the season will keep it in tip-top shape for next year. First, drain the water feature to prevent water from expanding inside and causing damage to the structures. The deep-freeze temperatures we get in the wintertime can burst water pumps, so make sure to remove them and give them a good cleaning. If you have a pond with live fish, they’ll require a different care regimen to prepare for the winter. Finally, cover your water feature with a tarp to protect it from the harsh elements.
Looks like you’ll be busy this season! But don’t worry—once you get through this fall cleanup, you’ll be pretty pleased to see how tidy your property looks as the seasons change again. Then, in the spring, you’ll find yourself with fewer chores, healthier plants, and a more beautiful outdoor space.