TIP: The Complete Guide to Fall Yard Care

Here are some helpful tips from Consumer Reports on how to best take care of your yard before it’s time to stow your mower—and get out your snow blower..

1. Deal With Your Leaves
The first step to dealing with leaves? Deciding whether you even need to collect them at all. There are environmental benefits to letting them lie where they fall. But of course, some folks find that unsightly or would rather put them to use in a compost pile or as mulch around trees. A rake will work fine for clearing, but a leaf blower is much faster, and you can use one for sweeping porches and walkways, too.

2. Tend to Your Grass
Most grass varieties continue to grow when average soil temperature remains above 55 degrees. You’ll need to continue cutting with a lawn mower or tractor, albeit less frequently than you do during the prime growing months in late spring. Apply fertilizer and aerate now, and if you don’t plan to collect your leaves, consider using a mulching kit with your mower. (Churning fallen leaves into fine mulch helps the soil absorb their nutrients and helps reduce the quantity of fertilizer you’ll need to use.)

3. Take Care of Your Trees
Autumn is the best time to prune and transplant most trees and shrubs. Trying to do it in spring or summer can shock them, right when they’re budding or blooming. The time is also right to trim back or lop off dead or dangling branches, since hurricane season is immediately followed by winter storms in much of the country, and any storm can cause a dead limb to fall on your property. Loppers will suffice for small jobs, but only a chain saw will work for larger limbs.

4. Store Your Mower and Other Yard Gear
If you loathe caring for your lawn, one silver lining is that fall coincides with the end of mowing, string trimming, and hedge clipping for much of the country. But unless you plan on moving south, you need to give those tools some TLC so they’ll start easily next season. Take the time to store them properly, and mark your calendar to remember to show them a little love over the winter.

5. Get Ready for Snow
Live in an area with heavy snowfall most winters? It’s not too early to think about how you’ll clear it. If you’ve got a small walkway, a good shovel will suffice, but you’ll want a snow blower if you have a long driveway or a detached garage more than a few feet from the house. If you own a snow blower, make sure it starts. If you don’t, consider buying one before everyone else rushes to the home center before the first winter storm.