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10 Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid This Fall

One-story suburban home
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Whether you moved into a new home or you’re giving your old one a makeover, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of your outdoor space. But just because the weather’s cooling down doesn’t mean your yard work is done — fall still requires plenty of lawn, landscaping and curb appeal maintenance to keep your home looking good throughout the winter and into spring. Here are 10 landscaping mistakes to avoid this fall.

1. Exterior paint goes a long way

While you may be thinking that landscaping only pertains to living plants and ground cover around your outdoor home, your exterior paint color of your home plays a big role in the overall look of your exterior. The fall is the perfect time to opt for a new paint job, retouch chipping paint, or repair siding to make your landscaping stand out in the best light.

2. Ignoring the hardscaping areas

Landscaping can be broken into two categories: soft and hard. Soft landscaping is the living stuff that has texture and can be planted, while hardscaping refers to sidewalks, driveways, rocks, mulch, and pavers placed around your home for safety, function, and beauty. Soft landscaping gets most of our attention, but in the fall, cleaning your surfaces with a power wash can help keep your yard looking fresh throughout the winter months.

3. Overlooking plant boxes below your windows

Window or plant boxes are a great way to add texture to your outdoor home and to add color to your siding, brick, or exterior surfaces. Plant boxes are perfect for homes that don’t have a lot of yard space but still want to add greenery to your home’s façade. Hardier herbs like lavender are great for the autumn months, and you can even top it all off with some small gourds or pumpkins for an extra pop of color.

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4. Letting the leaves piles up

If you live in a home that has many mature and older trees in the yard, you may get caught up in the nostalgia of falling autumn leaves, but they can also be dangerous if not raked regularly. Excess fallen leaves can hide sidewalk or walkways that are in disrepair or can get wet and becomes slippery underfoot for pedestrians. Rake leaves weekly during the fall months to avoid a possible accident and keep your grass healthy into the winter months.

5. Forgetting to aerate the lawn

If you have a cool season grass like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass or fescue — usually most common in northern states — you’ll want to aerate your lawn in early fall. You can do this by towing a lawn aerator behind a tractor, pushing a hand aerator, or strapping aeration spikes to the bottom of your shoes and walking around on your lawn.

6.  Storing dirty gardening tools

Every fall your yard and gardening tools get put away in your shed or garage and are forgotten about until the spring. Before you let them “hibernate” for the cooler months, ensure they are all working, cleaned off from dirt and debris, and stored correctly. Don’t let soil, moisture, or other debris make your tools unusable in the upcoming seasons.

7. Neglecting your grass

Just because your fall lawn isn’t growing at the same rapid growth as the summer months doesn’t mean you can forget about upkeep like cutting and fertilizing. Look to your local nursery or home improvement garden center for local growing guides based on your climate and demographics. A fall lawn that is fertilized on a seasonal basis will keep it from getting damaged during the winter months ahead.

8. Pruning spring-flowering shrubs

Sometimes less is more when it comes to fall landscaping. Plants like yews, boxwoods, and other spring-flowering shrubs love a good pruning, but not when it’s done after mid-August. For plants like these, new growth doesn’t have a chance to harden before the temperatures drop to freezing, and you’ll likely have some winter damage to deal with the following spring.

9. Forgetting to plant spring bulbs

The fall is the best time to start thinking about colorful flowers sprouting in the spring. Check with your local nursery on what flowering bulbs are best to plant now while the soil is still soft before winter’s frost. You will love how your fall planting will lead to a gorgeous garden in the spring. Ensure you follow the grower’s directions and plant them low enough into the ground to prevent freezing of your bulbs.

American traditional center hall colonial revival brick home with dormers.
Greg Pease/ Getty Images

10. Having a colorless yard

While you may think fall means that your outdoor home will lack color, think otherwise with creative and colorful ground covering solutions. Colored wood and rubber mulch varieties provide a gorgeous backdrop for evergreen trees and coniferous plants. Ground hugging plants like cranberry cotoneaster and other hedge plants can make for an autumn show of color your outdoor home will love!

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