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How to prep your yard and garden for fall

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A guide to setting up your yard and garden for fall 

As summer winds down, it’s time to ready your lawn and garden for the autumn season. In preparation for fall lawn care and gardening, there are a variety of tasks to complete before summer ends. This guide provides a walkthrough of these late-summer tasks, with a variety of product recommendations for getting the job done, from tree pruners and shears to weeding tools and composting accessories.

Shop this article: Greenworks 21-Inch Brushless Self-Propelled MowerBlack and Decker Cordless String Trimmer/EdgerFiskars Bypass Pruning Shears

Continue watering and mowing the lawn

Watering your lawn into the fall helps it recover from the stress of summer heat, sun exposure and foot traffic, strengthening the grass to better resist the harsh winter conditions ahead. Anticipate using your garden hose and sprinklers until the ground freezes. Prepare to mow your lawn into the fall season as well — grass still grows in autumn before going dormant for the winter. 

Control broadleaf weeds, diseases and pests

Late summer and fall are ideal times to deal with broadleaf weeds including dandelions, clover and ground ivy. Pulling the weeds manually can work if the growth is limited, while more extensive growth calls for a weed-and-feed treatment or weed killer. Get rid of any other diseased foliage or pest-ridden plants, too; otherwise, you may be left with a new outbreak once spring comes around. 

Overseed the lawn

Overseeding involves planting grass seed directly into existing turf to fill in bare spots and increase turf density. Late summer or early fall is the optimal time to plant grass seed when the soil retains enough heat for germination and weed growth decreases. Stop applying fertilizer or weed control for at least a month before overseeding, since both processes can make it difficult for new seeds to take hold.

Mulch garden beds

Adding mulch to your plants in late summer can improve moisture retention and help limit weed growth. The best time to mulch is right after rain or just after watering. 

Prune and trim plants

Deadheading plants that have become overgrown by the end of the summer leaves your garden looking refreshed, preventing plants from exceeding their allotted space and encouraging future growth. Cut dead or dying branches and spent flower stalks, and trim brown or wilted foliage. You can use sharp scissors for soft stems, pruning shears for thicker stems and a string trimmer for tree branches. Wait to prune deciduous trees such as beech, maple, oak and birch until after they go dormant for the winter.

Harvest fruits and vegetables, potentially plant more

Certain edible plants including tomatoes, winter squashes, pumpkins and melons are ready for harvesting in late summer. You can still plant a variety of crops that will come to harvest before the frost sets in, including quick-maturing lettuce, beets, carrots, peas, beans and spinach. Make sure to add compost to the soil before planting new crops.

Divide perennials 

Dividing mature perennials increases the number of plants in your garden. The process involves digging up a substantial plant and splitting it into smaller individuals, complete with roots, stems and leaves. In general, perennials should be divided in the season opposite to when they flower. Plants that bloom in spring and early summer can be split in late summer or early fall. 

Replace summer annuals, collect seeds and bulbs

Dig up spent summer annuals, roots and all. Collect their seeds and bulbs, then store them in a cool, dry place for planting next year. Mid to late August is the best time for planting fall flowers such as hydrangeas, dahlias, zinnias and petunias.

Best products for fall yard and garden prep

Greenworks 21-Inch Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

This Greenworks self-propelled mower does most of the work for you, letting you navigate the lawn easily with its cordless design. The 21-inch-wide steel deck makes quick work of large areas, and rear-wheel drive allows it to tackle rough terrain. This electric mower features a 60-minute runtime, seven cutting heights, a convenient push-button start and relatively quiet operation.

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Eden Metal Adjustable 6-Pattern Sprinkler

If it’s time to upgrade your watering setup, this rotating sprinkler is a solid option. It offers 360-degree coverage with six watering patterns for attending to different plants.

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Roundup Ready-To-Use Max Control 365

This potent weed killer creates a barrier in the soil that kills weeds at the roots and prevents them from growing for up to 12 months. It’s easy to apply the concentrated formula using the included wand that features continuous spray and extended reach.

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Black and Decker Cordless String Trimmer/Edger

This versatile tool converts from a cordless string trimmer to a lawn edger. The powerful 40-volt motor easily handles weeds, overgrown plants and grass. The lightweight tool runs for 30 to 45 minutes on a single charge, with an automatic-feed trimmer line for continuous use. A soft-grip handle and adjustable height maintain comfort when using the tool for extended periods.

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Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears

The all-steel blades on these pruning shears have a rust-resistant, low-friction coating that helps cut through wood and stems with ease. A self-cleaning sap groove prevents the blades from sticking, and the ergonomically designed handles make the tool comfortable to use.

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Black and Decker 20V Max 8-Inch Pole Saw

This electric pole saw can make up to 100 cuts of 1.5-inch pine branches on a single charge. The 8-inch cutting bar provides a maximum cutting diameter of 6 inches. A center extension adjusts the length to 6.5 feet or 10 feet, allowing for overhead reach up to 14 feet. 

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Biomaster Compost-It Compost Accelerator/Starter

You can turn lawn and kitchen waste into compost for your edible garden using this all-natural compost starter. With over 60 active ingredients, it creates nutrient-rich compost in four weeks. It minimizes unpleasant odors, making it a good choice for kitchen compost bins.

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Ozero Leather Work Gloves

If your gardening gloves are worn down, consider these durable leather work gloves. They’re thick, soft and flexible, naturally breathable and sweat-absorbent.  

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Scuddles Garden Tool Set

This reliable set of hand tools contains a shovel, trowel, fork, rake, weeder, water mister and gardening gloves. The tools feature strong metal heads and wooden or fiberglass handles. An included storage bag has exterior pockets that keep the tools organized and accessible.

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Lifetime Raised Garden Bed Kit

Give your overflowing perennials a place to grow or add to your vegetable garden with this set of three raised beds. They’re made of weather-resistant polyethylene, with a stackable design for accommodating deep-rooted plants.

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Amy Evans writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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