With fall in full swing and winter on its way, you might think it’s too early to ready your yard and garden for spring.
However, there are still plenty of tasks you can do this season to make your outdoor spaces more beautiful and enjoyable next year.
Get a head start on your spring plans by making a list of any additional tools and supplies, such as pots, gardening gloves, or a new watering can, you may need or want. Also note any upgrades you’d like to make—like swapping out your leaky garden hose or replacing some broken pavers. If you shop now, you might even be able to get these items at a reduced price from retailers discounting leftover stock. Or keep an eye out for them at garage sales or on the Buy Nothing app or one of its local Facebook groups.
Prep your yard
Take the time to rake up leaves, pull weeds, and clear out debris like fallen twigs, all of which you can either compost or put out for your municipal pickup. If you have a decent amount of leaves, you could also shred them to use as mulch; apply a two-inch-layer base of it around your trees and on your garden bed to prevent weed growth, protect your plants, and keep the soil moist during winter. (You could also use store-bought mulch.) As a bonus, mulching in fall may help free up your schedule for other outdoor maintenance tasks next spring.
Another element of your yard to consider is your grass. If it hasn’t gone dormant and is still growing, you should continue mowing until it stops, keeping it at a height of 2½ to 3½ inches. Long grass is more likely to get matted down by the winter elements, encouraging disease and leading to a tougher recovery come spring, while grass that’s too short is subject to root damage
Additionally, you’ll want to winterize your garden gear to ensure it’s available for spring use. Before it gets too cold outside, empty the soil out of your pots and the water from your hose and faucet; this will prevent water from getting trapped in the dirt or equipment and freezing, causing cracks. You can also ready your planters for spring blooms by scrubbing them clean with soapy water and then soaking them in a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water.
Plant and seed
If you haven’t planted spring-blooming bulbs like crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths already, you might still be able to as long as the ground hasn’t begun to freeze. Getting your bulbs in the dirt before it gets too hard and cold is important if you want them to flower plentifully next spring. However, some plants, such as tulips, might still bloom even if you plant them in December or later. You could also consider adding grass seed to your lawn if temperatures haven’t begun to fall below 60 degrees yet.
Ready your shed
To help you hit the ground running next spring, invest some time cleaning and organizing your shed. Start by sweeping and scrubbing the floor and shelves, and consider covering the floor with a durable layer like porch paint, vinyl flooring, or rubber floor tiles to increase its longevity. Then create a detailed plan for where to store everything, mapping where to add organizational tools like shelves and containers to free up needed space. For instance, you could find a spot near the front of your shed for your spring gear so it’ll be ready to go—just be sure your winter tools are also easily accessible. Keep a copy of the map you create either posted within your shed or on your phone for quick reference. If you don’t have a shed, think about creating a storage area in your garage if possible.
Clean and store
To protect your outdoor furnishings and tools from mold and rust, scrub off dirt and debris with soapy water, using a stiff brush as needed. (You might want to protect your eyes and hands with goggles and gloves while doing so.) Then give your items a rinse and allow them to air dry completely. For an extra protective touch, spray your metal tools with a lubricant like WD-40 to prevent corrosion and rust, taking care to wipe any stray oil off wood handles. Additionally, consider stowing away any delicate outdoor furniture that could be damaged by harsh winter weather.
With good planning and a little effort, you can have the spring yard and garden of your dreams.