It's been a crisp, beautiful fall week here in the Tri-state -- perfect for pumpkin patches, hay rides and football!

This cooler weather also serves to remind us that yes, fall (and eventually winter) are upon us. For homeowners, fall is the time to take care of your yard! View this work as an investment -- the maintenance and preparation you do now will protect your lawn from damage that can be caused by the elements, and allow grass, trees and plants to emerge victoriously come spring.

1. Mow!
You'll probably mow well into October, depending on the weather. For your final cutting of the season, experts recommend leaving the grass at least 2 to 2 ½ inches long. In cold climates it can encourage snow mold and in warmer climates short grass could be susceptible to other diseases, according to Becker.

2. Aerate!

You've probably seen neighbors doing this, and wonder why. Aerating reduces compaction and makes it easier for fertilizer and water to reach the roots of your grass. You can rent aerators at most hardware stores.

3. Fertilize
With a newly aerated and trimmed lawn, now is the perfect time to fertilize. In fact, fertilizing in the fall gives the lawn strength to survive the winter and come back strong in the spring.

4. Rake

You don't want dead leaves decomposing all over your lawn this winter -- water can get trapped underneath and kill the grass. Rake up your leaves -- and save some for your flower beds! The decomposing leaf matter is very helpful in the planting beds.

5. Mulch
Mulching protects your soil controls water runoff and soil erosion. It also helps protect new plants (see #6).

6. Plant
Fall is the perfect time to plant flowers for next year, as well as trees and shrubs. Why? Planting shrubs in early fall gives the plants a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil.

7. Trim
Once leaves fall, you'll be better able to see how the branches look, and what's dead/broken/overgrown. Keeping your trees maintained prevents damage over the winter and keeps your yard looking its best!

8. Turn off the water!
Standing water can freeze and crack drip-irrigation tubing. It can also lead to leaks or water problems inside your basement. Disconnect your hoses, shut off the water and make sure everything is dry.

Your yard is important -- it's your home's "first impression," after all. So take pride in your home by giving your yard a little TLC this fall!

Source: This Old House Online, Fall Landscaping Checklist | 2. This Old House Online, Get Ready for Fall Planting.
Photo Credits: 1. Norman Rockwell Museum, Norman Rockwell's Original Stockbridge Studio- Fall Trees, | This Old House, This Old House,
Sources: Aerator | Julie Falk, After the Rake Dance.
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