Fall Around the Yard: Lawn & Garden Tips

Danny Lipford with lawn and garden writer Julie Day Jones
Danny Lipford with lawn and garden writer Julie Day Jones

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The arrival of cool weather and clear days makes fall a great time of year to work in your yard. In this episode we share tips on fall lawn care, planting shrubs and bulbs, winterizing your lawn mower, and sharpening tools.

Dividing and Transplanting Plants

Dividing mature plants, such as hostas, is a great way to add to your garden. Start by digging up a mature plant, then pull or cut the roots apart where the plant naturally divides.

Add a little bone meal or phosphorus fertilizer to the holes when replanting the divided plants.

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Fall Pruning Tips

Pruning causes new growth to form, so it’s best to wait until winter or early spring before doing any major pruning of trees or shrubs. However, fall is a good time to remove any dead limbs from trees and shrubs.

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Planting shrubs

Planting Shrubs

Fall is a good time to plant shrubs, since the roots can settle in and become established before going dormant for the winter.

When planting shrubs, dig the hole three times wider than the plant and at least as deep. Build a compacted mound of dirt in the middle of the hole to give the plant a firm foundation while allowing room for the roots to grow.

Place the shrub in the hole even with or slightly above ground level, with the full side facing out. Add a shovel full of soil conditioner to the dirt when filling in the hole.

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Fall Bulb Planting

When planting bulbs it’s important to choose types that grow well in your planting zone. Plant bulbs in an area of the yard that receives the proper amount of sun and at the correct depth for the particular type of bulb.

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Fertilizing lawn

Fall Lawn Care

Whether to fertilize your lawn in the fall depends on your climate and the type of grass in your yard.

Fall is a great time to fertilize cool season grasses, like fescue and rye, since it’s the peak of their growing season. However, warm season grasses—such as St. Augustine and centipede—shouldn’t be fertilized in the fall, since they go dormant in the winter.

Fall is a good time of year to aerate your lawn, since you can add lime or compost at the same time to give your grass a head start in spring.

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Fall Lawn Mower Maintenance

After cutting your lawn for the last time in the fall, winterize your lawn mower so it will ready for use in the spring.

Start by running the mower until it’s out of gas, then remove the spark plug wire for safety reasons. Next, use a stiff brush remove any dirt and dust. Tilt the mover on one side, and hose down the underside of the mower deck to remove any grass or other debris. Take the blade off the mower, sharpen the blade using a file or grinder, and put it back on.

Drain the oil into a container, and dispose of the used oil properly. Refill the mower to the proper level with the correct grade of new oil. Finally, clean or replace the air filter, and clean or replace the spark plug.

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Garden tools

Clean and Sharpen Garden Tools

To revitalize garden tools, use a wire brush and steel wool to remove rust from tools. Sharpen edges or blades with a file, stone, or grinder, and apply lubricating oil to any moving parts.

Sand wooden tool handles and apply one or two coats of linseed oil. Use a cloth to wipe a light coat of linseed oil on metal surfaces to prevent rust.

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Other Tips from This Episode

Laying Out Right Angles

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Laying Out Right Angles

To layout right angles accurately, measure out 3’ from the right angle on one side and 4’ on the other. Adjust the angle made by the two sides, until the third side of the triangle measures 5’ to form a perfect right angle. Multiples of the numbers in the same ratio (such as 6, 8, 10) can be used to form larger or smaller right angles. (Watch Video)

Fiskars Anvil Ratchet Loppers

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Fiskars Anvil Ratchet Loppers

Fiskars 24” Anvil Ratchet Loppers are perfect for powering through branches up to 2” thick. The blades resist rust and are precision ground and titanium coated to keep them razor sharp. The six-step ratcheting action produces more cutting force with less effort. Fiskars Anvil Ratchet Loppers are available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Algae stains on roof

Ask Danny Lipford:
Remove Algae Stains on Roofs

The dark stains that are common on roofs are caused by algae growth. To remove algae stains, mix an oxygen based cleaner with water, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Lightly wet down the roof and use a stiff bristle brush to apply the cleaner. Allow the cleaner to remain on the roof for about 15 minutes before hosing it off. (Watch Video)