Certain tasks become necessary once autumn arrives. Whereas spring and summer were spent tending gardens and maintaining a yard prime for entertaining, autumn is about preparing properties to survive the winter. Just as with other jobs around the house and yard, fall clean-up can be done in a manner that is respectful to the environment.
Leave plant stalks and leaves
It is tempting to want to cut back perennials and other greenery so a property looks neat. But as flowers and plants dry and drop to the ground, they help insulate the roots from the cold. They also provide a natural habitat and serve as a winter food source for birds and small animals.
Rake leaves sensibly
Power blowers and mulchers make fast work of leaves, but at the expense of the environment. Gas-powered devices discharge fuel exhaust into the air, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, reap the benefits of peace and quiet as well as exercise from manual raking.
While raking, do not feel the need to remove every leaf. A certain amount of organic matter can be beneficial to the soil and even insulate the lawn somewhat. A leftover leaf here or there also may provide protection for insects and small animals. For example, many native bees spend the winter in tunnels in the ground, cracks in mortar, holes in dead wood, or within hollow stems, and they need lawn and garden litter to survive.
Collect and harvest
Be sure to gather any useable garden vegetables and fruits and prepare them for storage if they cannot be consumed in the next few days. Canning is a time-honored preservation method. Herbs and seeds can be dried and saved for use later on. Vacuum seal fresh basil and parsley.
Compost is a friend
Spread a thin layer of compost on the lawn and in garden beds. Compost prevents weed growth, insulates and protects the soil and provides nutrients that will be needed once the spring busy season begins. By using compost, homeowners can reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers and weed killers.
Check for drafts and leaks
Fall is an ideal time to check windows and doors for cracks where water, air or insects can enter. Seal up holes and cracks, and ensure there are no drafty areas. Drafts can cause home heating and cooling systems to work harder, expending more energy than necessary.
Look at which items in the yard have seen better days and prepare to recycle or reuse them in different ways. Faded plastic planters can be used as impromptu bird baths in a garden. An old tire can be mulched and turned into soft material to put around a playset. Inquire as to the proper way to recycle plastic lawn chairs that may be broken.