Fall Yard Care

Manage leaves

As nutrient-rich leaves fall in our yards and neighborhoods, they can be washed into storm sewers, carrying excess phosphorus and nitrogen directly to lakes and streams. Managing those leaves is good for your yard and for the environment.

  • Mulch. Depending on the amount of leaves that accumulate on your property, you can mulch with your mower instead of raking and bagging – at least for much of the fall season. This is a great way to prevent leaves from washing into storm drains, and it fertilizes your lawn in the process.
  • Rake. Once fallen leaves have blanketed your lawn, raking may be your best option. Be sure to gather any leaves that spill into the street. Bag the leaves for pickup (if your city offers this service), take them to a designated compost site, or compost at home.
  • Clear storm drains. Please help keep storm drains clean, and consider adopting a drain in your neighborhood.

Lawn care

Fall is a great time to improve the health of your lawn. The key is to avoid excessive fertilizers and chemicals that cause runoff pollution.

  • Aerate. Aeration helps break up compacted soil, letting water and nutrients infiltrate. This in turn helps your grass and discourages weeds from taking hold. Use a spade or shovel to aerate small areas; for larger lawns you can hire a lawn service or rent a core aerator.
  • Seed bare patches. Help prevent soil erosion by seeding bare patches of your lawn. Use a hand rake to lightly cover and ensure good soil-to-seed contact. Instead of traditional turf grass, consider converting these spots to native plants or a low maintenance grass variety such as fescue. Visit the Blue Thumb website to learn about some of these options.
  • Fertilize sparingly. By aerating and choosing the right seed for your yard, you may not need to fertilize. If you decide to, choose a zero-phosphorus fertilizer and use sparingly as these nutrients can quickly end up in local waterbodies where they fuel algae growth.