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Fall Yard Cleanup Checklist

A proper fall yard cleanup puts you ahead of the game when spring arrives.

Rake and leaves
Fall is here, which means it's time to clean up your yard and prepare for the cool days ahead. A little work now will lead to a big payoff when spring arrives. The most efficient way to start is at the top, by pruning trees, trimming hedges and cleaning gutters. After that, work your way down. Protect your deck by cleaning and staining it, close the pool and start composting. Finish on the ground with a little lawn maintenance, garden sweep and overall assessment. Use the following checklist to make your annual fall yard cleanup easy and enjoyable

Step 1: Clean your gutters

Now is a good time to clear leaves and debris from your gutters. Ensure proper drainage of your roof to avoid costly leaks before the cooler wet weather hits. Use a small garden trowel to scoop out the gunk. If the dirt is solidified, soak it first to loosen it, then use a garden hose to rinse it out through the downspouts. If there's a clog, use a plumber's auger to free it.
Woman pruning hedges

Step 2: Prune trees and hedges

Trim overgrown areas and remove dead limbs before they weaken and fall under winter snows. Thinning your trees now may save you a roof-repair bill in the future. For higher or heavier tree cleanup, use a chainsaw.
Deck being powerwashed

Step 3: Protect your deck

With summer traffic in your backyard slowing, now is a great time to use a pressure washer to clean the mould, mildew and grime from your deck before sealing it. You'll find a great assortment of pressure washers in-store and online including exclusive brands such as RIDGID. The Home Depot also rents pressure washers, check out the Tool Rental Centre. Once your deck is clean and dry, protect it from costly moisture damage during the cooler wet months ahead. Use weatherproofing wood stain by BEHR Paint, available at The Home Depot.
Woman dumping compost

Step 4: Start a compost pile

A great way to reduce your impact on the environment is to compost. The Home Depot can help you get started with a variety of easy-to-use compost bins. When clearing the garden, remove all blackened plants such as zinnias, petunias and marigolds (Tagetes) and add them to your compost. Remove plant stems on any perennials that may have had diseased foliage, such as peonies (Paeonia) and lilies (Lilium). Put them in garbage bags or cans to avoid spreading weeds and disease. Good sanitation now will result in fewer problems next spring. For more on how to compost, read our project Easy Composting.
Tilling the garden

Step 5: Till your vegetable garden

It's time to clean and clear your vegetable garden. Dig out old vegetable plants and add them to your compost pile. Till the plot thoroughly, then add several inches of compost to nurture the soil for spring planting. Work the compost into the soil to help it breathe and allow rainwater to pass through more easily.
Gardening tools

Step 6: Get the grime off your tools

As the gardening season ends give your tools a polish.
  • Spend a few minutes wiping them clean to remove debris and dirt.
  • Apply a light layer of oil to keep them from rusting during the cold season so they'll be ready to use in the spring.
  • Use Clorox Greenworks Natural cleaning supplies, available at The Home Depot, designed to tackle the toughest cleaning problems.
Woman raking lawn

Step 7: Do a little lawn maintenance

Fall lawn care will yield maximum results in the spring.
  • Apply Scotts Eco Sense Weed B Gone to control weed infestations.
  • Aerate compacted soil or use a rake to remove thatch.
  • Use fall lawn fertilizer to improve soil conditions for when spring growth begins.
  • Mow grass blades no more than 1/3 of its length at once.
  • To clear dried grass clippings, leaves or dirt from your driveway, patio or deck, use a blower.
  • Leaf blowers make lawn work quick and easy. For small lawns use a handheld model. For large, opt for a more comfortable backpack blower.

Step 8: Give your garden bed a clean sweep

As the growing season ends, give your flower garden a clean sweep and prepare it for spring. Spent plants, debris and weeds can be a welcoming and warm environment for fungi and bacteria to grow and a great place for insects to lay eggs. Clearing it now will save you costly springtime repairs. You'll find the latest in durable, flexible and ergonomically designed rakes at The Home Depot. Once your garden is clean, feed your soil by adding fertilizer, compost and organic topsoil; use a tiller to mix it together. When you're finished, cover the garden with pine-bark mulch, available in-store, to prepare it for next spring.
Outdoor post light

Step 9: Assess lighting needs

Now that your yard is in tip-top shape and clear of debris, take a look around. Inspect your outdoor lights to ensure that they're working properly and replace those that aren't. If you don't have landscape lighting, now's a great time to add it to your space. As the days get shorter, the right lighting can bring your garden to life at night. Go for low-voltage or solar lighting systems, since they're an affordable and earth-friendly way to illuminate your yard, walkway, patio, driveway and garden. You'll find the best brands in landscape lighting with new styles and innovative designs, available exclusively at The Home Depot.
Pool cleaning

Step 10: Pool Maintenance

Closing the swimming pool for the season is a great weekend project:
  • Clean the bottom with a pool vacuum hose.
  • Use a net to remove floating debris and leaves.
  • Balance the water chemistry.
  • Shock your pool and add an algaecide.
  • Lower the water level to 4-6 inches below the skimmer and close valves.
  • Drain the lines and plug them with winterizing plugs.
  • Fill the skimmer line with antifreeze and place a skimmer guard in the skimmer to prevent costly damage from ice forming.
  • Protect your pool with a winter cover.

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