14 Quick and Simple Yard Maintenance Things to Do in October
Keep up with this stuff in October, so you don’t get behind with fall yard maintenance.
Drain Garden Hoses or Waste Money on Replacements
Gary Wentz, Editor-in-Chief
Drain Mechanical Sprinklers or Buy a New One in the Spring
Winterize Your Lawn Mower
Don’t just shut off your lawnmower and leave it until spring – that’s a bad idea. But winterizing your mower only takes an hour. Give the deck a thorough cleaning. Then, add fuel stabilizer and a few ounces of oil to make sure the engine will start right up without hesitation in the spring.
Store Outdoor Furniture
Don’t leave your outdoor furniture exposed to the elements all winter long. At the very least, give your furniture a thorough cleaning and cover it or bring it inside for the season.
Take Care of Those Leaves
Once leaves are on the ground, put aside some time to tackle that chore. Check out these great ways to make dealing with leaves easier!
Fertilize Your Lawn
It’s important to apply fertilizer to your lawn during the fall – in fact, if you only apply fertilizer once a year, fall is the time to do it. Your lawn has spent all summer growing and it’s hungry.
Empty Pots and Planters
The water in soil left in flower pots and planters over winter can freeze and expand. Make sure to empty your clay and ceramic planters so they’ll survive for next season.
Three Easy Winterization Steps for Your Lawn Tractor
- Moisture inside an unused engine leads to corrosion. ‘Fogging’ the engine—spraying an oily mist into each cylinder—prevents this. All you have to do is remove the spark plugs and blast in some aerosol fogging spray (sold at auto parts stores). Then reinstall the spark plugs.
- Storing a battery that isn’t fully charged can lead to permanent damage, especially in cold weather. Connect the battery to a battery charger and charge it until you get a reading of 12.7 volts.
- Stored gas will slowly gum up the whole fuel system, and the repairs can be expensive. So add a fuel stabilizer such as STA-BIL or Seafoam to the gas tank before winter. (Adding stabilizer to your gas can year-round is also a good idea.) But remember that stabilizers aren’t effective in gas that contains ethanol. If you don’t know whether the gas contains ethanol, run the engine until the tank is empty.
Another tip: Cover the air intake and exhaust openings with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep critters from homesteading in your engine over winter.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Plus: Gutter Repair
Mulch Your Leaves
Illustration courtesy of Trevor Johnston
Test the Soil
Grass grows best when it’s growing in the “pH happy zone.” Grasses like a pH level between 6 and 7.2. If the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, the grass won’t thrive even if you do everything else right. So collect one tablespoon-size sample a couple of inches under the sod in three different places in your yard and take the three samples in for testing. Some garden centers offer the service, or search the Internet for “soil testing” to find a place to send it.
You’re after a pH between 6 and 7.2. If it’s too high, you’ll treat the lawn with iron sulfate or sulfur; too low and you’ll use pelletized limestone. Whoever does the testing will tell you what and how much to use to fix the pH. Applying the treatment is as easy as walking around the yard with a spreader.
Learn how to correct soil PH in our video tutorial.
Regular core aeration will slow thatch development. However, it won’t do much to remove existing thatch. This can be done by renting a power rake, which will ‘lift’ the thatch from the soil surface. This thatch residue can then be raked by hand and removed. Dethatching is hard work, so it’s smart to prevent buildup in the first place. The best way to do that is to avoid overwatering and overfertilizing.