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  • Writer's pictureZach

How to get a better lawn - last step of the year: prep the lawn for winter and apply fall lawn food

This fall has been unusual. Our leaves fell late and normally I do the last mow of the year in early November. So to be mowing the lat week of November is not normal. But to prep the lawn for winter and to set it up for a better start next sprint, there are a few things that you'll want to do.

Pick Up Leaves

The last few weeks I have cleaned up leaves by both raking and bagging the fallen leaves. I have three fully grown Oak trees and two big Maple trees in my backyard. If your leaves completely cover the grass, I’d recommend putting them in a bag. If you don’t have a ton of leaves you can simply mulch them up with your mower and compost them right into the grass.

The last couple of weeks I have filled my yard waste can, and have had to buy several compost bags to fill as well. The yard waste bin is the best investment and makes lawn cleanup so much easier all year. Our curbside pickup ends this week so we've been working hard to get it done.

My tall evergreens shed thousands of needles that I rake and blow into my plant beds to use as mulch. Last year, I cleaned the needles up, but this year I created a mulch bed under all the evergreens where it’s difficult for grass to grow. I’ve also planted several other spruce trees in front and under the tall evergreens for future privacy in my backyard.

Final Fall Mow

Over the last couple of weeks, I have slowly lowered my mower deck to cut the grass shorter each time. My final mow I cut my grass to 3 inches. Cutting the grass short before winter helps prevent future diseases, makes it easier for cleanup in the spring, and lowers the potential of having snow mold. I edge along my cement one last time to give it that neat look. With the grass close to going dormant, it should give me a nice edge to start the spring.

Put Down Fall Lawn Food

My final step is to put down my fall fertilizer. This will give you that early green looking yard. For several years I never put down a fall fertilizer or I put it down too early. I always saw neighbors with that early green grass and couldn’t figure out how. It’s because of what they put down in the fall.

You want to put down this final step after you have all your leaves picked up and you’re done mowing. Several of the fertilizing companies put this on about a month ago and it’s rained a few times and leaves hadn’t even fallen. You don’t want to bag your yard several times after putting down your fake fertilizer. A big benefit of doing your yard yourself is that you get to control when you put it down. So after that final mow, put down the fall lawn food and it'll set you up for a better start to spring!


Need a lawn fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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