Checklist: Keep Your Yard in Top Shape for Outdoor Living Through the Seasons

Checklist: Keep Your Yard in Top Shape for Outdoor Living Through the Seasons

It’s where we watch movies. Do videoconference calls. Exercise. Relax. Dine. Make S’mores. Read books. Play games. And so much more. It’s the backyard.

Backyarding became a way of life for millions of Americans during the pandemic, and our new outdoor lifestyles have taken hold for good. We’ve become more purposeful in our yards, designating areas for eating, working and playing.

It’s always been important to keep our yards in top condition but now we use them more than ever. Work done in yards now in the fall, will determine the quality of that family football game after Thanksgiving dinner, the videoconference call backdrop, or beautiful spring blooms next year.

The TurfMutt Foundation, an environmental education and stewardship program that encourages outdoor living and caring for green spaces, offers the following tips to help keep your backyard in top shape for work, play and enjoyment through the seasons.

Keep mowing. Grass still needs regular care to stay healthy. Grass that is too high may attract lawn-damaging field mice. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting it low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less will turn brown in the winter. However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the fall season.

Aerate grass. Compressed soil hurts grass health. Aerating punches holes into the soil and lets oxygen, water and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.

Mulch leaves. Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.

Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chainsaws or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines, and are not in danger of falling on a home or structure in winter weather. You may need to tie or brace limbs of upright evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.

Repair bald spots. Fall is a great time to patch those bald or thin spots that have cropped up on a lawn due to wear and tear. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture (found at most garden shops and home centers). Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.

Plant fall bulbs and other plants. Autumn is the season to plant for spring blooms. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map before deciding what to plant.

To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit

Source: Checklist: Keep Your Yard in Top Shape for Outdoor Living Through the Seasons The TurfMutt Foundation (August 20, 2021)