Take advantage of the mild fall weather to tackle some landscaping tasks that need to be finished before winter arrives. By completing these chores now, you will be able to jump right in when spring arrives.
Get the whole family involved and devote an entire weekend to this list. Kids will love the chance to play in the dirt and you'll appreciate the help.
Homeowners who can't -- or prefer not to -- do all the fall garden chores themselves, have multiple options for hiring assistance. Start your search by posting the job on Care.com. You can also find help in print and online classifieds. And don't ignore the value of word of mouth: Ask your neighbors, co-workers and family members if they know anyone who could help out. Teenagers and college students are eager workers who can use the extra money.
Need help getting your kids involved? Read our article on Tricks to Get Kids to Do Yard Work »
Clean, Weed and Fertilize
Clean out and weed all of your garden areas. Turn the soil while it's still easy to work and you'll save yourself a lot of backbreaking labor come the spring. Finish by covering the weed-free beds with a layer of organic fertilizer such as chicken or steer manure.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Once the garden beds have been fertilized, cover them with fallen leaves or straw. Put a mulch layer around trees and shrubs to protect them from freezing.
Plant Spring-blooming Bulbs
Spend a few hours planting a mixture of bulbs (in both pots and in the ground) now, so you can enjoy an array of color and beauty in the early spring.
Transplant Shrubs and Perennials
Trees and shrubs that have outgrown their areas, or need to be moved for other reasons, may be safely transplanted this time of the year.
Spread the Wealth
Bulbs can be divided, opening up the opportunity to control their size and location. Use the excess plants to fill other areas in the yard.
Cut back and shape shrubs, trees and plants, such as hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons.
Process and transplant the last of the summer herbs. It's a good time to dry the herbs and freeze them or make herb vinegars and oils so they will be ready for holiday use and gift-giving.
Pre-winterize Plants and Trees
Bring winter-over and other tender plants inside. Tie limbs of upright evergreens and plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds and heavy snow.
Prep Hoses and Outdoor Faucets for Cold
Disconnect all hoses, roll them up and store with sprinklers and wands. Insulate all exposed pipes and exterior water faucets to prevent them from freezing.
Service and Clean Tools
Nothing is worse than trying to do a job with rusted or poorly working equipment or tools. Take the time to clean, sharpen and oil garden tools, as well as clean and service lawnmowers and weed eaters.
Kristy Stevens-Young is a freelance writer in Seattle. Her work can be found here.