Football season has started, temperatures are (slowly) dropping, and pumpkin spice lattes are back.
Fall is on its way here in Gainesville. And for those of us in the lawn care and landscaping business, that means it’s time for fall yard clean up services to begin. After this summer of especially strong storms and rapid plant growth, many North Central Florida residents need help cleaning debris, removing leaves and getting back to the yard they love.
But it can be hard to know where to start.
We’ve drawn up this fall yard clean up checklist to help make the process a little more manageable, so you can spend less time taming your lawn and more time enjoying it.
Fall Yard Clean Up Checklist
☐ Remove Storm Debris
The first task on your fall yard clean up checklist should be removing debris kicked up by Hurricane Irma and other storms that blew through Florida over the past few months. Your lawn care professional should be able to clear out most storm debris, branches, and litter, but consider calling a tree service or restoration service in cases of extensive damage.
☐ Rake or Leaf Blow
After the big debris has been removed, it’s time to get at those leaves. Leaf removal is one of the best ways to open up your lawn and patio space. Depending on the amount of leaf cover and the size of your yard, you may want to pick up your own leaf blower or hire a lawn care company that offers leaf blowing services.
As sustainable lawn care professionals, we recommend quiet, electric leaf blowers rather than gas-powered ones.
☐ Replace Yellow or Dead Grass
If leaves have been collecting on your yard throughout the summer, there’s a good chance that the grass underneath has turned yellow from lack of sunlight. Patching your lawn with sod is a quick solution, so you can have your place ready for guests in time for tailgates or holiday parties.
Here’s a rundown on the basics of professional sod installation. For the DIYers out there, check out this practical three-step guide to get started on your own sod install.
☐ Mow Your Grass
We’re guessing you already had this one on your list. Be careful not to mow your grass too close to the ground—taller grass holds onto moisture longer and promotes deeper roots. You can use this list of optimal mowing heights as a reference.
And of course, we recommend electric mowers to get the job done without gas emissions.
☐ Pull Down Vines
Here in North Central Florida, vines grow aggressively over the summer. They can choke out your trees, shrubs, and hedges before fall. Your lawn service professional can remove or kill them from the roots, creating more space and moisture in the soil for your plants to enjoy.
Removing vines will also allow more sunlight to reach your low-growing plants, and will make your yard’s vegetation look more tidy and healthy in general.
☐ Cut Vegetation Back from the House
It can be difficult to keep plants from creeping along your siding and windows during the summer’s rapid growth, especially if you spend part of the season away for vacation. By the time fall arrives, branches and brush can crowd up against your home’s exterior, collecting moisture and blocking sunlight.
Ask your lawn care service to trim back hedges and trees, as well as ivy, vines, or other vegetation clinging to your house.
☐ Renew Bark Mulch
You may have bark mulch in your yard or plant beds to suppress weeds and help retain soil moisture. But as the summer months alternate between scorching heat and heavy rain, bark mulch can start to get thin and discolored. Putting down a layer of fresh chips will help keep your lawn and plants healthy while also bringing some rich colors to your yard.
Don’t worry about removing the existing mulch; it will break down and add nutrients to the soil.
☐ Plant Autumn Annuals
Planting seasonal annuals is a simple but significant way to brighten up your yard and make it welcoming to guests. Ageratums, wax begonias, and zinnias work well to transition from a summer to fall garden; you can also start planting foxgloves, petunias, and pansies as temperatures drop.
Wondering where to get fall annuals this season? Here’s your guide to local Gainesville nurseries offering fall annuals and the flowers they have in stock.
☐ Create Clean Boundaries around Your Yard and Plant Beds
This landscaping technique will help create a striking, appealing look for your yard. Your professional lawn care service or landscaper should be able to explain how to create clean boundaries on your property. Generally speaking, they might need to weed-eat around fence lines, curbs, and plant beds, trim or reshape plant bed edges, or refresh mulch as mentioned above.