A beautiful smattering of crunchy, red and yellow leaves on the ground is one of the best views of fall. But when it’s in your yard, and those leaves continue to pile up, it seems more like a chore than a seasonal wonder. Good news: You don’t have to spend too much time on your fall yard work. Skip the hard labor and harsh chemicals, and use our easy tips to beautify your outdoor space so you can get back to sipping apple cider by the fire.
To green up grass: Say “cheers.”
A brown buildup of old grass roots often develops under healthy grass this time of year. While some thatch is good — it helps insulate roots during the winter — too much of it can cause bald spots or suffocate new growth next spring. The natural way to maintain a good thatch balance: Combine 1 can of dark beer (such as Guinness), ½ cup of liquid dish soap (not antibacterial), 1 cup of full-sugar, non-diet cola, ½ cup of dark molasses, and ½ cup of mouthwash in a 20-gallon lawn sprayer, then water your lawn with it once a month before the first frost hits, advises Erik A. Olsen of SouthernLawnMan.com. “The nutrients and sugars in the beer, cola, and molasses attract beneficial bacteria that break down excess thatch and keep your lawn healthy, while the dish soap helps the mixture soak down to root level and the mouthwash kills harmful bugs like grubs,” she says.
To rake twice as fast: Grab a shovel.
Good news: If you can see more grass than leaves, you don’t need to rake at all, because the leaves will break down over the winter and fertilize your lawn — especially if you run your mower over them to chop them up. But if your yard is blanketed in leaves, your grass can suffocate. To speed through raking, just grab your snow shovel, says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. “Once you’ve gathered your leaves into small piles with your rake, use the shovel to deposit them into leaf bags or bins — the shovel’s extra-wide surface is much more efficient for scooping leaves all at once, cutting your work in half.”
To protect bulbs: Spread chicken wire.
You’re not the only one who knows it’s bulb-planting season: Hungry squirrels and chipmunks love tulip and crocus bulbs, and have a habit of digging them up. Instead of starting all over again and planting new bulbs, save yourself the work (and frustration) by grabbing chicken wire: “Cover the planting area with a layer of the mesh—it’ll prevent inquiring critters from getting to the bulbs yet allow f lowers to sprout in the spring,” says gardener Joanna VonBergen (GinghamGardens. com). Also smart: “Squirrels are curious about freshly dug soil, so consider spreading some mulch to act as camouflage.”
Tips to Protect Your Garden Tools This Fall
Ward off metal rust. Metal tools like spades are prone to corrosion when unused over the winter. The fix: Wipe metal with a bit of mineral oil, then stick tools in a sand-filled bucket. The oil and sand repel moisture and keep blades clean.
Prevent hose kinks. Since freezing temperatures can degrade the rubber, it’s best to store hoses indoors. To prevent kinks that can cause leaks, just coil hoses around a garbage can, where they’ll stay clean, dry, and out of sight until spring.
Keep motors in top shape. Gas that sits in your mower or edge trimmer over the winter can form deposits that clog the fuel filter and gunk up the engine. Simply remove extra gas with a siphon pump (found in hardware stores). Pour the fuel into a gas can and bring it to your town’s disposal center.