Getting Your Lawn and Garden Ready for Winter
Cathy Basile, 10-09-2018

Stephen Mule
With winter just around the corner, preparing the yard for seasonal changes is not something many homeowners think about nor look forward to, but a well-prepared lawn will make spring that much more welcome when it comes back around. For those new to preparing a yard for seasonal changes, here is a handy guide.

Raking. Getting leaf cover off the grass allows it to breathe and helps prevent the growth of bacteria and other harmful organisms that will cause damage. Leaf blowers do a good job, but for a little extra exercise, and to remove some of the dead grass clippings, opt for the old fashioned rake. If the grass is in need of a trim, mow it to around 2” to 2 ½” height for the last two mowings of the fall. Now is also the time to take care of bald spots in the lawn with a little humus, topsoil, or peat moss topped with grass seed. Keep the newly seeded areas watered for around the first two weeks or until the first frost. Now that your yard is trimmed, repaired, and as leaf free as you can get it, you’re ready for the next step.

Fertilizing. Most homeowners believe that the spring is the best time to fertilize the yard, but that is not the case according to experts. Applying fertilizer in the fall helps grass build up a good strong root system and store nutrition for the long and often harsh Ohio winter.

Weeding. Dandelions and other broadleaf weeds may have taken over your lawn and now’s the time to get even. Weeds are just like other plants, taking in energy and weed killer during the fall. So, if you apply an herbicide now, the weeds won’t show up in the spring. The best time to apply weed killer or fertilizer with a herbicide is earlier in the fall, so check with your local lawn care supplier for how to use it for the best results.

Vegetable Garden. Time to swap out the lawn rake for the garden rake, spade, gloves, and yard waste bags or bin. After you’ve removed the last of your root crops, such as potatoes and carrots, it’s time to get rid of all the stems, roots, and leaves of spent plants. Leaving the old plants in your garden invites plant diseases and insects to get a head start in the spring, so be thorough in clearing them and any weeds away. Your garden will also benefit from adding nutrients in the fall, saving time next spring because you will be ready to plant earlier. Fall is a great time to dig in manure, compost, bone meal, and other amendments to improve your soil. Your favorite garden supply store is a good source for what to add, and you can use a garden spade and a little muscle to get it incorporated. To keep the nutrients you add in your garden over the winter, it’s a good idea to cover the garden with a fabric or plastic tarp. This keeps fall rains and melting snow cover from washing away all your hard work.

Flower Garden. For those with a flower garden rather than a vegetable garden, fall cleanup is still important. Perennial bulbs will benefit from being dug up in the fall. Prepare the bed where you want to replant them by loosening up the soil, mixing in peat moss or humus to lighten up heavy soils, and adding about ⅓ cup of 10-10-10 soluble fertilizer (or bulb fertilizer) plus two cups of bone meal per ten square foot area. Separate any small bulbs attached to the “mother” bulb and replant right away so they don’t dry out. As a general rule, plant bulbs at a depth of 2-3 times their height. Cover them with soil and lightly pack it down. A light watering will help the soil settle around the newly planted bulbs.

Once you have prepped your garden for the winter, all that’s left is to sit back and admire all the work you’ve done and wait for your reward in the spring.

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