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9 Simple Fall Yard Clean Up Tips For An Enjoyable Start In the Spring

Winding down the rest of the garden and getting it ready for the next season doesn’t have to be an epic undertaking. Use these simple yard clean up tipsso that you don’t have any nasty surprises in spring.

It can be tempting to just harvest all the vegetables from the garden before the frost really sets in and just leave everything else. I get it, by the time you have harvested, dried, canned, frozen, etc you are ready to take a break from the garden. When the temperature changes there is a natural need to slow down as our energies start to change with the seasons.

I’m with you! I usually need a solid break when the fall hits so I have compiled a few simple tasks that can even be done after frost that really make a big difference in the work you will have in the spring time.

Small Yard Clean Up Actions Add Up!

This cannot be overstated. If you can, complete these yard clean up actions in small batches so it stays an enjoyable activity. So you can stay present in each moment and each task. Keeping your mind focused on the task in the moment and not letting it fly around to “all the things” you need to do is massive for your mental health and stress levels. 

Avoid Yard Clean Up Overwhelm

This presence of staying focused on one thing at a time is a form of meditation. It a proven positive effect on your energy and your mental health. Instead of feeling drained and exhausted you will feel calm, focused and grounded as you go about your time winding down the yard.

It will help you to keep a mindset of gratitude for Mother Nature and the beautiful changes as we shift from one season to the next.

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Your Fall Yard Clean-Up Tips

#1 Empty Out Pots

You will need to refresh the soil in your pots in the spring time anyways. Avoid trying to dig severely compacted soil out of pots in the spring.

Also if the pots are left outside and retain moisture there is a good chance they will split when they freeze. It’s no fun to find a cracked pot and likely you will have to spend money to replace it.

Any potted perennials are usually best planted in the ground to overwinter in really cold growing zones. Pots are too exposed to the cold here in Zone 3 and most things won’t survive. The roots buried in the earth have a much greater change for survival and resilience.

#2 Wash & Bleach Pots

This is a really important best practice for the health of your plants. It will remove fungus, bug eggs, mineral salts and anything that could carry forwards to the next season.

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I try to stay ahead by cleaning my pots right after I empty them.

#3 Remove Annual Plant Matter

It is best to remove the dead plant matter from your annual garden beds including weeds. This prevents any potential weed seeds or diseases from proliferating. Dead plants tend to be home for bugs. Unwanted garden pests could overwinter in your garden.

This will also save you the time of having to remove them before you can prepare you beds for planting in the spring.

I like to do this yard clean up task a little at a time while I am harvesting my garden. By the time the garden is harvested, all the plants have been removed.

#4 Perennial Plants

Leave them as they are to die back but don’t cut or remove any plant matter from these right now.  Many perennials are a very important habitat for a lot of awesome predator insects over winter. Especially lady bugs. They love to live deep under mulch, in grasses, on the underside of dead leaves. You will likely already see lots of them bedding down when it gets cool. Leave them be as they are very valuable to have around.

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Dead perennial grass material in early spring.

#5 Your leaves make fantastic compost

Leaf matter also makes a great home for predator insects so you most certainly can leave your leaves until the spring if you want. I have quite a lot of trees so I prefer to find a balance. I will clean up a decent amount of the leaves to save myself time in the spring. I don’t remove any of the dead plant matter from my perennials, I also have a significant amount of mulched areas in my yard. Both of these are good home for the “good bugs” to overwinter.

It can be nice to get the leaves a bit of a head start in the compost bins as well. If you don’t have enough room right now in your compost then bag it up and save it for next year. This is a very valuable brown (carbon material) to help keep a healthy balance in your bin next year. It is also super handy for mounding your potatoes.

My favourite thing about the fall is topping up all of my compost bins. There is so much dead plant matter you can fill your bins with to get you off to an awesome start before it freezes and have lots of beautiful black gold for your plant babies next summer.

New to composting? Or perhaps looking to level up your composting skills? My Essential Compost & Vermicompost Guide 2.0 is the perfect course for you.

#6 Garden Shed & Garage TLC.

The yard clean up process cannot really complete until your storage places are organized. There are a lot of tools and pots that are about to be put away for the winter. Taking a little bit of extra time right now to tidy up the shed, maybe give it a sweep, stack your pots nice, hang anything additional to keep the floor clear goes a long way to alleviating stress in the spring. It makes it much easier to find what you need in the spring.

I have been there when you open the shed door in the spring, when you didn’t take the time to give it some TLC, it’s not super fun digging out the shed before you can do any start of the season clean-up in the yard.

I grow lots of house plants and a decent amount of food indoors over the winter. Occasionally I need to go to the shed to get something during the winter. Not having to climb a mountain of stuff to get what I need it SUPER awesome! (learned that lesson a few times)

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Post gardening season pot organization.

#7 Drain All Hoses & Irrigation Systems.

Take a little extra time to do this well. It’s never fun to find one that froze and split, especially after you have invested lots of money in your irrigation system. I have neglected in the past, to take the extra moments in my yard clean up process for this and learned this lesson the hard way.

If your curious what it takes to design and build your own drip irrigation system for next season, now is a great time to start the planning. My blog post How To Install A Drip Irrigation System For Vegetable Gardens In 5 Easy Steps will give you step by step guidance to get started.

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#8 Clear Patios & Decks.

Put away your patio table, chairs, umbrella to make for easy shovelling of snow in the winter. perhaps even putting your deck furniture indoors or covering it with a tarp. The harsh winter season can be hard on outdoor furniture.

#9 Deck Boxes & Storage Containers

If you have deck boxes empty them out completely and give them a good spray down with the hose. Let them dry well and then neatly place any essential items back in.

Thrift or repurpose anything you haven’t been using. 

Deck boxes are a great place for bugs and critters to overwinter so this can prevent your cushions or anything getting ruined or being gross next year. The nice thing about this yard clean up task is that I find that I only really need to do it every couple of seasons. My deck boxes seem to seal really good which helps a lot.

If you are running out of space in your garden shed or garage, deck boxes make great outdoor storage spaces. You can even get a waterproof deck box cover to further protect you items. A great deck box cover can be found by clicking here.

Enjoy Your Results

There is something so satisfying, but also bittersweet, when the garden and yard clean up is done. When you all your gardening supplies are neatly tucked away for the season.

When the snow melts in the spring, and the little green shoots start to spring up, it just a nice feeling to not have a ugly mess that was hiding under the snow that you now have to deal with.

This will save you a lot of the preparation time needed before you can get to planting your garden in the spring!

Join me for a day 3 deep dive into the what, why and how to set up your own unique compost system. I will teach you both traditional & non-traditional methods as well as some that don’t even use a compost bin so you have your own steady supply! 

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