(ARA) - The cooling weather signals most homeowners to retire their lawn and garden equipment for the year. But before you stow away the rakes and hoes, remember that fall offers a unique opportunity for starting projects that can yield beautiful landscape results next year. You can save time and potentially money by doing a few simple projects now so when spring arrives, your yard reaches its full potential.
Every year, a lot of time, money and effort is devoted to the pursuit of a beautiful and well-maintained home landscape. According to the 2011 American Time Use Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans who dedicate time to lawn and garden care spend on average more than two hours a day maintaining their outdoor spaces.
While a beautiful yard takes effort, there are ways you can better utilize the time, money and energy you spend on maintenance. Keep these tips in mind when tackling the landscape during the cooler months:
1. Rake and pick up leaves.
If leaves are left scattered on the lawn, grass won't grow as well in the spring. Don't worry about removing leaves from plant beds, as they actually help insulate and feed plants during the winter months.
2. Take advantage of fall planting opportunities.
Plant perennial flowers, ground covers, spring bulbs, trees and shrubs in early fall so they have time to establish strong and healthy roots. Some of the best sales on perennials are in the fall when greenhouses are trying to close out their inventories.
3. Mulch plant beds.
It's important to add a layer of organic mulch to plant beds, which helps roots get established before the ground freezes solid. Mulch also helps to retain soil moisture and prevent future weed growth. Don't add mulch where iris rhizomes are planted because they are prone to rotting.
4. Maximize your equipment with accessories.
Find accessories or attachments that enhance the equipment you already own, such as your all-terrain vehicle. For example, the SnowSport ATV Plow manufactured by Agri-Cover can be used year round for landscaping projects as well as snow removal. With this versatile snow plow, a homeowner can easily level, spread or push dirt, gravel and snow anytime of the year. This turf-friendly, all-terrain plow is available in six different blade lengths, so you can find the best one for your ATV or utility terrain vehicle. Each blade is 14.5-inches high and has a 1-inch thick rubber cutting edge for efficient scraping no matter what project you're taking on.
5. Clean out rain gutters.
Clogged gutters can cause water backups that can damage your roof in the fall, and possibly create ice dams in the winter. It's wise to clean out rain gutters and make sure water flows away from walkways and driveways, which could ice over and become hazardous in the winter.
6. Winterize pipes.
Shut off water to all outdoor spigots to prevent pipes from freezing. If you have a sprinkler system, blow out the lines so that sitting water doesn't freeze and destroy the system.
7. Maintain your driveway.
If you have a tar driveway, popular in the cities and suburbs, you might want to consider sealing it before the cold weather hits. Ice and snow can damage the surface and cause cracks to expand. If you live in a rural area, the maintenance of a gravel driveway may also be on your fall to-do list before the winter winds start to blow.
With these simple tips, you'll make the most of fall time to create a beautiful landscape setting you can enjoy through all of next year.