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Mid-Tenn Homes

--September 12 - 25, 2018


How to prepare your lawn and garden for winter


inter weather can

be harsh. Home-



spendmuch of the

year tending to their lawns and

gardens may worry that winter

will undo all of their hard work.

Though homeowners cannot do

anything to prevent snow, wind

and ice from affecting their

properties, they can take vari-

ous steps to prepare their lawns

and gardens for whatever win-

ter has in store.

· Mulch leaves. Falling leaves

are a telltale sign that winter is

coming. In lieu of raking leaves

as they begin to fall, homeown-

ers can mulch them into their

lawns. Scotts®, an industry

leader in lawn care, notes that

mulching leaves is a great way

for homeowners to recycle a nat-

ural resource and enrich the soil

of their lawns. While it might

not be possible to mulch fall-

en leaves in late autumn when

they begin to fall en masse, do-

ing so in the early stages of fall

should be possible so long as

the lawn is not being suffocated.

Scotts® recommends mulching

the leaves to dime-size pieces

to a point where half an inch of

grass can be seen through the

mulched leaf layer.

· Rake leaves as they start to

fall more heavily. Once leaves

begin to fall more heavily, rake

them up and add them to com-

post piles. The resource Gar-


composting leaves creates a

dark, rich and organic matter

that can add nutrients to gar-

den soil and loosen compacted

earth. Leaving leaves on the

lawn once they start to fall in

great numbers makes it hard for

grass blades to breathe, and the

leaves can block moisture from

reaching the soil, which needs

water to maintain strong roots.

In addition, potentially harmful

pathogens can breed on damp

leaves left on a lawn, and such

bacteria can cause signicant

damage to the turf over time.

· Apply a winterizing fertil-

izer. Winterizing fertilizers can

help lawns store food they need

to survive through winter and

also can help them bounce back

strong in spring. Such fertiliz-

ers are typically formulated for

cool-season grasses such as fes-

cue and bluegrass and are often

best applied after the nal cut

of fall. Warm-season grasses

go dormant in winter, so home-

owners whose lawns contain

these types of grasses won’t

want to apply a winterizing fer-

tilizer. Homeowners who don’t

know which type of grass they

have or are concerned about

when to apply a winterizing

fertilizer should consult with

a lawncare professional before


· Remove annuals from the

garden. Annuals won’t be com-

ing back in spring, so it’s best to

remove ones that are no longer

producing from the garden be-

fore the arrival of winter. Doing

so can prevent the onset of fun-

gal diseases that may adversely

affect the garden in spring.

Fall is the perfect time for

homeowners who spend months

making their lawns and gardens

as lush as possible to take steps

to prepare such areas for poten-

tially harsh winter weather.

A guide to safely removing fallen leaves


aking leaves is a chore many peo-

ple immediately associate with au-

tumn. Even though raking seems

like a simple activity, it’s still pos-

sible to be injured while removing leaves

from the yard.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical

Center advises that pain from outdoor leaf

chores can range from strained back mus-

cles to twisted knees. Blisters on the hands

and sunburn are other potential side effects.

Many people do not realize that raking is a

thorough cardiovascular workout. Individu-

als at risk for cardiovascular disease or those

who have recovered from surgery may not be

well enough to rake leaves.

Here’s how to make autumn leaf removal

more of a breeze when the job is done safely.

· Pay attention when using a leaf blow-

er. Be cautious not to point an operational

blower in the direction of people or pets, as

debris can be blown about and cause injury.

· Stretch out before raking leaves. Warm

up muscles beforehand so they are less likely

to cramp. UPMC experts suggest taking a

short walk prior to raking to stimulate cir-


· Use proper raking form. Much like snow

shoveling, one should emphasize proper

posture when raking, with legs slightly bent

and weight distributed evenly. Hold the rake

handle close to the body and keep one hand

near the top of the rake for better leverage.

· Use the proper gear. A leaf rake fans out

like a triangle and comes in various widths.

Choose a lightweight material that can be

easily maneuvered. Ametal rake is for stones

and dirt and shouldn’t be used for leaves. To

get between bushes, a smaller version of a

leaf rake, called a shrub rake, should be used.

· Wear protective gear. When raking or

leaf blowing, protect your eyes against de-

bris. You also may want to use a mask to

prevent inhalation of leaf mold and other

particulates. Gloves can protect hands from


· Follow manufacturers’ directions. Read

the instructions for powered leaf blowers,

and never modify the device in an unauthor-

ized way.

· Use a tarp and lift wisely. Rake leaves

onto a tarp that can be dragged to a garbage

pail or to the curb for municipal pick up. For

those who must lift bags of leaves, do so by

bending at the knees, not from the waist.

· Wear sunscreen. Protect skin from the

sun. Even though temperatures are cooler in

the fall, this does not mean the sun’s rays are

any less harmful. Also, take breaks to rehy-

drate frequently.

· Use a secure ladder. When removing

leaves from gutters, be sure the ladder is

sturdy and secure. Consider having a friend

serve as a spotter, holding on to the ladder to

offer greater security. Do not overextend to

stretch for leaves.

If at any time during leaf clean-up you feel

sharp or dull, incessant pains, stop working.

Listen to your body’s signals and start the

task anew the next day or when you feel bet-



pring and summer may

be the seasons most

often associated with

landscaping and lawn

care, but tending to lawns and

gardens is a year-round job. If

lawn and garden responsibilities

dip considerably in winter, then

fall is the last signicant chance

before the new year that home-

owners will have to address the

landscaping around their homes.

Fall lawn care differs from

spring and summer lawn care,

even if the warm temperatures

of summer linger into autumn.

Homeowners who want their

lawns to thrive year-round can

take advantage of the welcoming

weather of fall to address any ex-

isting or potential issues.

· Keep mowing, but adjust

how you mow. It’s important

that homeowners continue to

mow their lawns so long as grass

is growing. But as fall transitions

into winter, lower the blades so

the grass is cut shorter while re-

maining mindful that no blade

of grass should ever be trimmed

by more than one-third. Lower-

ing the blades will allow more

sunlight to reach the grass in the

months ahead.

· Remove leaves as they fall.

Much like apple-picking and foli-

age, raking leaves is synonymous

with fall. Some homeowners

may wait to pick up a rake until

all of the trees on their proper-

ties are bare. However, allowing

fallen leaves to sit on the ground

for extended periods of time can

have an adverse effect on grass.

Leaves left to sit on the lawn may

ultimately suffocate the grass by

forming an impenetrable wall

that deprives the lawn of sunlight

and oxygen. The result is dead

grass and possibly even fungal

disease. Leaves may not need to

be raked every day, but home-

owners should periodically rake

and remove leaves from their

grass, even if there are plenty left

to fall still hanging on the trees.

· Repair bald spots. Summer

exacts a toll on lawns in various

ways, and even homeowners with

green thumbs may end up with a

lawn lled with bald spots come

September. Autumn is a great

time to repair these bald spots.

Lawn repair mixes like Scotts®

PatchMaster contain mulch,

seed and fertilizer to repair bald

spots, which can begin to recover

in as little as seven days. Before

applying such products, remove

dead grass and loosen the top

few inches of soil. Follow any ad-

ditional manufacturer instruc-

tions as well.

· Aerate the turf. Aerating re-

duces soil compacting, facilitat-

ing the delivery of fertilizer and

water to a lawn’s roots. While

many homeowners, and par-

ticularly those who take pride

in tending to their own lawns,

can successfully aerate their

own turf, it’s best to rst have

soil tested so you know which

amendments to add after the

ground has been aerated. Gar-

dening centers and home im-

provement stores sell soil testing

kits that measure the pH of soil,

but homeowners who want to

test for nutrients or heavy met-

als in their soil may need to send

their samples to a lab for further


Fall lawn care provides a great

reason to spend some time in the

yard before the arrival of winter.

Fall lawn care tips

Did you know?


eaf spot is a term used to describe various diseases that

affect the foliage of ornamentals and shade trees. Ac-

cording to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the majority of

instances of leaf spot are caused by fungi, though some

are the result of bacteria. While leaf spot can contribute to some

defoliation in a plant, the Missouri Botanical Garden notes that

established plants can tolerate near-complete defoliation if it oc-

curs late in the season or less frequently than every year. However,

small trees or those that are newly planted are more vulnerable to

damage resulting from defoliation than established trees. Damage

from leaf spot tends to occur in the spring, when wet weather and

wind splashes and blows spores from fungi onto newly emerging

leaves. The spores then germinate in the wet leaves, ultimately in-

fecting them.