Do this fall yard work, reap spring­time ben­e­fits

The Enterprise - - Real Estate -

Lots of peo­ple think that their fam­ily yards need less at­ten­tion in the fall, but au­tumn is no time to ig­nore your lawn and land­scape.

“What you do now will de­ter­mine the qual­ity of your fam­ily yard next spring and sum­mer,” said Kris Kiser, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Out­door Power Equip­ment In­sti­tute (OPEI), the in­ter­na­tional trade as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing more than 100 power equip­ment, en­gine and util­ity ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers.

“Ev­ery gar­dener knows to plant bulbs in the fall, but au­tumn is also the time to mow, mulch, aer­ate, trim and patch your lawn,” said Kiser. He of­fers the fol­low­ing tips to help you get your yard into top shape this fall and ready for more re­lax­ing and fun out­door ac­tiv­i­ties next year.

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 the grass low al­lows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf 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 sea­son.

Aer­ate your lawn. 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 your 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 not in dan­ger of fall­ing on a 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 bald or thin spots in a lawn. 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.

Kiser also added it is im­por­tant to fol­low safety pro­ce­dures when­ever us­ing out­door power equip­ment. Read your own- er’s man­ual. It will de­scribe the in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments for your par­tic­u­lar ma­chine, and will pro­vide di­rec­tions on which fu­els may be ap­pro­pri­ate for your prod­uct. Fu­els con­tain­ing more than ten per­cent ethanol should not be used un­less di­rected in the owner’s man­ual.

He said, “You’ll also want to ser­vice and win­ter­ize your lawn mower, string trim­mer, leaf blower, and other out­door power equip­ment.” And, re­mem­ber, most gas-fu­eled out­door power equip­ment is war­ranted and de­signed to run on E10 (10% ethanol) fuel or less. There are fuel op­tions avail­able to­day that should not be used in your out­door power equip­ment. Re­mem­ber ‘look be­fore you pump.’ And, make sure to drain the fuel tank be­fore stor­ing equip­ment for the win­ter. Dis­pose safely of any fuel that is more than 30 days old.

“Win­ter­i­za­tion is im­por­tant for out­door power equip­ment. When every­thing is grow­ing again in the spring and you see how all of your hard fall lawn work has paid off, the last thing you want to deal with is a mal­func­tion­ing mower,” said Kiser.

For in­for­ma­tion on safe fu­el­ing go to www.LookBe­foreYouPump.com. For tips on out­door power equip­ment safety, go to www.opei.org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

A hedge trim­mer can be a valu­able tool for that fi­nal trim of the sea­son.

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