Fall is a surprisingly busy time when it comes to landscape and yard maintenance. Lawns, shrubs, trees, plants, furniture and equipment all need to be prepared for the coming cold weather. Here are some tips to make sure the landscape makes it through the winter unscathed:

About Lawn Care

Fall Landscape MaintenanceThe lawn should be watered and mowed as usual, though for the last two mowings of the season the mower should be adjusted to its lowest setting. This allows more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass blade. Despite this, the mower should still not cut more than one third of the blade at a time.

Aeration is also part of yard maintenance. An aerator agitates the soil to allow oxygen, water and light to penetrate. It also loosens thatch, which are snarls of roots and debris that block air and light.

Though the grass may look brown through the winter, its roots and rhizomes are still active. This is why many lawn care experts claim that fall is the best time to fertilize the lawn. Using an organic blend of fertilizer applied with a walk-behind drop spreader is recommended by many lawn experts.

Rake or blow the leaves from the lawn. Over time, they turn into a soggy mess that cuts off air and sunlight from the grass and harbors pathogens. If the gardener is sure that the fallen leaves are healthy, they can gather them into black bags for mulch.

Fall is the time to fill in bare spots in the lawn. The best way to do that is to buy a bag of grass seed, fertilizer and mulch. Scratch at the bare spot with a rake and spread the mix over the area. Compact it down, and soak it thoroughly with water. Water the area every two days for two weeks.

As the roots and rhizomes of grass grow even in the winter, so do the roots and rhizomes of weeds. Fall is the time to apply herbicide so they don’t return in the spring.

Plants and Flowers

Collect seeds from favorite flowers to be sown the next spring, though early flowering plants such as peonies and forget-me-nots should be planted in the fall. Plant spring bulbs such as daffodil in the fall for spring blooms. The rule of thumb for daffodils is to make the holes three inches wide, three inches deep and three inches apart.

Tender plants should be brought into the house or greenhouse or protected with burlap and mounded mulch before the first frost. After the frost, store tubers such as those of dahlias in sand-filled buckets.

Cold-hardy vegetables such as lettuce and kale should be sown in the fall, and the canes of blackberries that bore fruit over the summer should be removed. The canes of autumn-bearing raspberries should be cut down to the ground.


Now is the time to service tools to make sure they’re ready for spring. Keeping tools sharp promotes the health of plants, for dull blades only crush stems and limbs and lure diseases and insects to the plant. Clean the tools after use and rub on some light oil to keep them from rusting. Store them in a shed, in the garage or the basement. Though it’s tempting, they shouldn’t be left outside. Tools are sharpened with different types of files.

Before it’s put away for the winter, the lawn mower needs to be seen to. First, clean it, sand off any rust and tighten any loose nuts or bolts and take out the spark plug lead from the spark plug. Carefully tip the mower, and see if the blade needs sharpening. If the blade is in very rough shape, replace it. Check the air filter to make sure it’s not clogged or dirty. Change the oil. Drain the gas tank or turn the mower on every three weeks or so to make sure the fuel is still good. Don’t leave old gasoline in the tank throughout the winter, for it will form a sludge that will damage the engine. If maintaining the lawn mower is a bit daunting, a homeowner shouldn’t hesitate to call their local Boulder landscaping contractor for help.

Water Features

Remove plants from a water feature before the first frost and bring them into the greenhouse. Remove debris such as fallen leaves from the pond. Kill any algae with an algicide. Be sure to remove the water pump, for it can cause the casing of the water feature to crack if it freezes. If the water feature is drained, it should be refilled before the really cold weather arrives. This prevents the ground beneath the feature from heaving. Goldfish and koi can be left in the pond over the winter if there’s no danger of the pond freezing solid.

The Swimming Pool

Skim the swimming pool to remove leaves and other debris, then clean out the skimmer box. Debris is best handled before it sinks to the bottom of the pool. If it has sunk to the bottom of the pool, it will need to be vacuumed up. Scrub the walls and tiles of the pool to keep them clean throughout the cold months, and check the filter to make sure it’s in good shape. If there’s a heater, now’s the time to have it professionally serviced by a Boulder landscaping contractor.

Find and fix any leaks around the pool to make sure that the water level stays constant. If the water level drops, the pool’s pump can be impaired. The pH and chlorine levels also need to be maintained even when the pool is not in use. Lastly, cover the pool after buying a cover that’s right for it.

Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture needs to be kept clean throughout he season. If it’s not going to be used during the fall or winter, it should be given one last cleaning and brought indoors or covered.

Needing Help?

We all have busy lives, and it’s always comforting to have someone who can help take care of everything that needs it. The professionals at Don King Landscaping can take care of some or all of your fall landscaping maintenance needs for residents and property managers in the Boulder area. Contact us now for an estimate!

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