Fall is a good time to take steps to improve lawns and gardens. Many of these steps will also help protect Plymouth’s lakes by reducing storm water runoff and erosion.
- Aerate and dethatch. Aeration loosens compacted soils to improve water infiltration, increase the movement of oxygen to grass roots and stimulate growth. Proper aeration extracts cores of soil 1/4 to 3/4 inch in diameter, and 2 to 4 inches in depth. Aeration is particularly important in areas with clay soils – like Plymouth.
- Late August through mid-September is the best time to apply fertilizer. Be sure to choose phosphorus-free fertilizer (look for bags with a 0 as the second in a series of three numbers). Carefully follow directions on the bag and be sure to clean up any spilled fertilizer.
- Seed bare spots, or top dress (August through late September) your whole lawn by spreading a thin layer of compost, then overseeding with a “northern mixture” of grass seed. Keep the grass seed evenly moist until it sprouts and is about one inch high.
- Apply broadleaf weed control, if needed (Mid-September through mid-October).
- Water until late October (one inch per week is adequate, and be sure to count rain).
- Mow until grass stops growing (around beginning of November).
- Leave the foliage on native perennials to offer visual interest, help plants catch snow (a great winter mulch) and provide winter food for birds.
- Fall is a great time to plant native perennials. Check out the many sources at the Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water.
- Unlike lawns, garden plants don't need fertilizer in autumn. Perennials need to slow down their growth before the onset of winter.
- Tilling vegetable and flowerbeds in autumn gives you the chance to start planting earlier in spring, especially when we have late, wet springs the following year.
- Lift tender bulbs such as callas, cannas, glads and dahlias if you want to save them for next year.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and crocus.
- Leaves can be excellent mulch for gardens and plantings.
- Add leaves to your backyard compost bin.
- Bring leaves to the Plymouth Yard Waste Site.
- Check with your garbage hauler about leaf collection. Most haulers have compost programs in place, and accept yard waste – including leaves – from their customers. There is usually a fee associated with this service. And remember, Minnesota law requires the use of compostable bags (either paper or compostable plastic) or carts for yard waste collection.