As cooler weather approaches, homeowners should start preparing their lawns and gardens for winter. Fall is the ideal time to spruce up the yard and ensure success in spring. Before homeowners grab their tools, Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 51 years, offersfall lawn and garden tips. Individuals can also learn more about lawn maintenance at the free Consumer Panel Discussion on Wed., Oct. 10, in the Ron Ziglinski, CR Education Center in the Milwaukee/NARI office, 11815 W. Dearbourn Ave., Wauwatosa. Lawn Care
- Rake the leaves. Fallen leaves can smother the grass and lead to insect or disease problems. Homeowners can compost dead leaves, use them as winter mulch, or bag them for proper disposal.
- Fertilize the grass. Fall is a great opportunity to fertilize the lawn. Do it early in the season and again after the last time the lawn is mowed, around late October or November. Plants will absorb and store the nutrients, so they’re ready to thrive when spring arrives.
- Water the lawn. Even though the temperatures are falling, it’s important to continue to water the grass. Lawns that are stressed by drought, which could be the case for many yards after the dry summer, do not bode well during the winter months.
- Establish or repair the grass by seeding or sodding. Complete seeding or sodding by mid-September on bare or thin patches. There are fewer weeds in autumn, and planting this time of year will give the seedlings time to establish.
- Mow the lawn. Adjust your mowing height to about two inches tall in the fall. A lower cutting height will help prevent the grass from matting down under leaves and snow.
- Check for thatch. Thatch, a dense mat that can form on the lawn, can lead to disease and insect issues. Check for it by removing a chunk of grass and soil and measuring its thickness. One-half inch of thatch or less is acceptable. Raking and vertical mowers can help control the occurrence of thatch.
- Use aeration. Aeration makes room for new grass to spread, breaks up compacted turf, and allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the roots.
Gardening and Planting
- Attack weeds. Apply post-emergent herbicides and pull weeds to prevent their seeds from spreading in the fall wind. Homeowners can also spot-treat weeds with a nonselective herbicide like glyphosate.
- Spread mulch. Protect plant roots by applying mulch after the ground freezes. This will help shield frost and keep soil temperatures more stable.
- Plant spring-blooming bulbs. Plant bulbs like daffodils and tulips during the fall season. This will add a burst of color to a home’s spring landscape.
- Cut back perennials. While some perennials can be left alone because they have attractive foliage or provide food for birds, others need to be cut down to fight off pests and diseases or for aesthetic reasons. Cut the dead foliage within two to three inches of the crown after they’ve gone dormant, usually following several frosts. Some plants to cut back in the fall include daylilies, peonies, hostas, and more.
- Give the fall garden color. Once your summer plants have faded, give the yard a punch of color with plants such as mums and pansies.
- Clean and put away tools. Take the time to clean up your shed or garage. Properly toss out old chemicals, take note of what will be needed in the spring, sharpen everything that needs it, and complete other cleaning and organizational tasks.
- Drain the irrigation lines and hoses. It’s essential to turn off and drain water out of the irrigation system and hoses before freezing temperatures, so pipes and sprinkler heads don’t get damaged.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council mergedwith the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet,“Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call 414-771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at www.milwaukeenari.org.