We’re already finding some stray leaves in landscape beds in Northeast Ohio—a sign that fall is upon us, and so is the need for fall clean-up to prepare your landscape for winter and beyond. Many property owners associate fall clean-up with blowing and collecting leaves, and certainly, that’s a major part of the job. But there’s much more to it.
When completing your fall clean-up, you should be doing the following:
Cut Back Tall Perennial Grasses
Perennial grasses that are taller than 3 feet can create a mess on your property in winter with windy conditions. Plus, these grasses can take a beating with the freeze and thaw. Snow also stresses these grasses, adding extra weight.
The grasses go dormant in winter; so consider cutting back perennials so you can maintain a neat look plus keep the grasses healthy.
Prune With Care
While we’re on the topic of “cutting back,” let’s address fall pruning dos and don’ts.
- Do perform light pruning of woody ornamentals to remove dead or dying branches.
- Do some spot, hand pruning if necessary.
- Don’t prune evergreens (unless you are removing dead branches) because their growth protects trees during cold winters.
- Do leave more branching on trees than you might think—because our recent history of extremely cold temperatures in winter takes a toll on trees.
Remove Leaves From Your Property
Aesthetically, leaf removal gives a property a polished appearance and you should be doing spot clean-up of leaves on a regular basis to avoid a major pileup.
Cleaning up leaves on a 10 to the 14-day rotation is ideal. Leaves are actually a great source of phosphorus, and it’s important to introduce this into the soil when possible.
Try to strike a balance between providing a neat appearance on your lawn, and leaving organic matter that will benefit soil health.
Remember Leaf Removal In Drainage Inlets/Outlets
Beyond removing leaves from the lawn and landscape beds, you should ensure that all drains on your property are free of debris.
Leaves and other green waste (sticks, brush) get caught up in drainage grates and inlet/outlet pipes. If they are left there, the snowmelt and moisture in winter can cause blockages and even flooding.
Protect Trees And Turf
Fall is a good time to apply granular preemergent fertilizers to prevent weed seed germination in late fall that can result in weeds come spring. Then, another application of the preemergent products in spring will give your lawn the best preventive protection against weeds.
Prepare For Spring Now—Fall Clean-Up Sets The Stage
A thorough fall clean-up protects your landscape investment during winter’s harsh conditions and sets you up for a strong spring.
That way, once the weather warms up again, your property will be in top condition and require only light clean-up and bed preparation for mulching.