Checklist: Do this fall yard work now, reap benefits next spring

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Keep mowing through the fall. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter. Courtesy photo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Autumn is no time to ignore a home’s lawn and landscape.

“What you do now will determine the quality of your family yard next spring and summer,” Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, said. OPEI is an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

“People know to plant flower bulbs in the fall, but this time of year is perfect for mowing, mulching, aerating, trimming and patching your yard,” Kiser said. “You might use a lawn mower to trim the grass, mulch the leaves or pull an aerator attachment around your yard. Leaf blowers can help corral those troublesome leaves, and string trimmers can help you make your yard tidy.”

It’s important to take care of the yard, Kiser said.

“After all, your living landscape does a lot for you. It produces oxygen, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters and captures runoff, improves air quality, controls erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide and supports biodiversity. You benefit when your yard is in top shape,” Kiser said.

OPEI offered the following checklist to make sure a home’s yard is ready for relaxing and fun outdoor activities next year.

First, keep mowing. Grass that is too high may attract lawn-damaging field mice. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter. However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the season.

Aerate the lawn. Compressed soil hurts grass health. Aerating punches holes into the soil and lets oxygen, water and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.

Mulch the fallen leaves. Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.

Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chain saws or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines and are not in danger of falling on a home or structure in winter weather. Limbs of upright evergreens or other plants may need tying up or bracing to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.

Repair bald spots. The easiest way to repair bald spots is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture which can be found at most garden shops and home centers. Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.

Ready outdoor power equipment for winter storage. Drain fuel tanks before storing the lawn mower, leaf blower or string trimmer for the winter. Service and winterize outdoor power equipment before storing in the garage or shed. Taking these simple steps now will ensure that in the springtime homeowners are ready to start their equipment and get to work right away.

For information on safe fueling visit www.LookBeforeYouPump.com

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