Yard care tips for the fall

September 9, 2022

Fall is one of the best times to improve your lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden. The basic maintenance you do during this “second spring” will pay off in healthier growth and fewer problems next year.


Mulch Your Trees

Now is the time to add a layer of mulch around your trees. In the winter, mulch insulates the roots and provides nutrients. It helps the soil retain moisture, too. Even large and old trees benefit from adding a ring of mulch.


The mulch should not touch the base of the tree.

Mulch should not touch your tree.


Apply mulch to a ring around the tree trunk. Remember the Rule of 3:

  • The mulch ring should extend 3 feet out from the trunk
  • The mulch should start 3 inches from the trunk so that no mulch touches the tree; and
  • The mulch should be 3 inches deep (but not more).

Pro-tip! Have lots of leaves? Use them as a great mulch around your trees and across your garden beds.

Download a guide on how to apply mulch properly.

Start Organic Lawn Care

A beautiful lawn next spring starts with simple actions you can take this fall.

Learn from your soil. Whether it’s through weeds, or empty patches, the look of your lawn tells you about the health of the soil. The soil should be loose and teeming with life too small to see—if your lawn is suffering, start with aerating your lawn, adding compost, re-seeding, and leaving all your grass and leaf clippings as a source of nutrients.

Overseeding a lawn

Replace your “weed and feed” chemicals with grass seed. Fall is the perfect time to restore bare patches of lawn with seed—do this every year to fill in your lawn, because a strong carpet of grass will keep weed seeds from germinating.

3 ways to prep your lawn for winter.

  1. Aerate the soil (add small holes) to allow water and nutrients to penetrate.
  2. Add compost.
  3. Add fresh grass seed. Keep watered until establishment.

Download our fall organic lawn care guide.
Visit our new organic lawn care website

Recycle Excess Yard Trim

During the fall, your yard becomes covered with leaves. What should you do with these leaves and other types of yard trim?

Hands holding compost

Black gold

Mulch it in the yard. Pile excess leaves as mulch across garden beds, or in a back corner of your yard. Lots of pollinators will overwinter on the leaves, too, so you are doing nature a favor. If there are still than can be mulched, more run your lawn mower across extra leaves to chop them into small bits, and let them feed your lawn.

Compost It. Recycle leaves, grass clippings, and garden prunings into a nutrient-rich soil amendment, better known as “black gold” or compost.

Check here for 5 ways to use those extra leaves!

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection provides compost bins at no additional charge to residents of the County.  Simply add leaves, grass clippings, and garden prunings into the compost bin, add water, and mix the materials periodically. Then, let nature do its thing.  Over time, microorganisms will feed on the organic material, leaving you with compost you can add to your soil.

Recycle Yard Trim Properly. If you receive Montgomery County-provided recycling collection service, and you don’t have the space to mulch or compost, place your yard trim out for weekly curbside recycling collection.  The County collects yard trim year-round. Place yard trim in paper yard trim bags, in reusable containers labeled with a yard trim sticker, or bundle with twine.  Please note, yard trim cannot be placed in plastic bags.

For more information about the County’s yard trim recycling program or where to get a compost bin, visit montgomerycountymd.gov/yardtrim or call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311.


66 comments on "Yard care tips for the fall"

  1. Thanks for these tips for caring for a yard. You mentioned that you should try to have a mulch ring around a tree that is 3 inches deep. I wouldn’t mind knowing if this a general rule or if specific trees could benefit from more or less mulch.

    1. susan says:

      Thanks for your question, Taylor! It is a good general rule to follow. We recommend keeping the mulch 3 inches deep for all trees, as long as there is a barrier of 3 inches between the tree’s trunk and where the mulch starts. Think of it as creating a doughnut of mulch, surrounding the tree (this handout has some useful pictures that illustrate that idea: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/green/Resources/Files/trees/Mulch-Flyer.pdf.

      If you are wondering about a specific type of tree, let us know and we will get back to you. Hope this helps!

  2. My wife and I just bought a house. It’s a townhome, so the backyard is quite small. There is also very little grass and what grass there is, is very dead. Any tips on what I can do now to have beautiful green grass when spring and summer roll around? Nate

    1. Jessica Jones says:

      Congratulations on your new home, Nate! We suggest you explore all the great information on our organic lawn care pages (https://montgomerycountymd.gov/lawns/) to get you started on your journey to green grass.

      We recently posted a blog on dormant lawn seeding, which will help get you started. If it is hard to push a screwdriver into your soil, then you certainly want to address compaction. Without knowing why the grass is dead (there could have been heavy use from pets or people, compaction, poor nutrients, or poor drainage) and the property being a townhome, it’s likely the soil left from construction was not very healthy. Using a light dressing of compost when combined with aeration and overseeding will go a long way to improving the health of your soil. Consider getting a soil test now (they only run about $8 dollars) and we would be happy to interpret the results for you. And don’t forget there are alternatives to lawns—if you are interested in a conservation landscape or vegetable garden for part of your yard, consider using some quiet evenings this winter to plan something more than grass. Best of luck!

  3. I’ve always mulched trees all the way around the trunk! Now I know I shouldn’t have been doing that. I think my neighbors do it too so I’ll enlighten them. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Cannon W says:

    this is an excellent post! great job

  5. Ellie Davis says:

    Thank you for pointing out that you should be properly recycling your trim. My husband and I don’t have time to take care of our lawn and want to hire a company to do it for us. I’ll have to do some research and find the best one in the area.

  6. Tyler Batty says:

    I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to keep my lawn healthy. I’ve got kids with friends and a dog, so I don’t want to have it get trampled. I’ll see what I can do to get it to aerate! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Bree Ward says:

    It’s true that fall is the best time to improve your lawn because of its favorable weather condition. I like your suggestion on how to properly do it. These include mulching, yard trimming, using organic materials, etc. My husband bought a new property, and we are planning to landscape it. I will follow your tips when we start the process.

    1. Debra Rosenman says:

      What is the best mulch for flower gardens.

  8. I just moved into a home that has a pretty big backyard. I have never cared for a lawn before. So, I am glad that you pointed out that I need to aerate the soil.

  9. Adrian Jones says:

    It’s a good thing you talked about several things that one can do in order to keep the front lawn looking healthy as the seasons change over. One of those would be to mulch any and all trees growing in the property in order to promote further growth of the roots and to improve potential water absorption when there are rainy days. If I had the chance to take a second look at the lawn out front, I would also make sure that the grass and the ground are healthy and teeming with life.

  10. Thanks for explaining that the mulch shouldn’t actually touch the trees, but should surround the trunks at a comfortable distance of three inches. My husband and I want to do some work on our yard so it can be a clean and comfortable place to relax. I’m glad I read your article because now I know how to apply mulch around trees in a way that looks good and is healthy for the trees.

  11. My dad wants to make sure that the lawn at home is always in good condition all year round. It was mentioned here that the trees should be mulched and the aerate the soil to allow water and nutrients to penetrate. Moreover, it’s recommended to consult experts when considering lawn aeration services.

  12. Nate says:

    I’ve been trying to find a solution to keeping my lawn healthy and green, but it’s hard with all of the neighborhood kids who trampled through the yard on a daily basis. Thank you for your tips! Handyman Lubbock

  13. Greta James says:

    Thank you for your tip to add mulch in the fall to help insulate the trees! I found your tips very interesting. However, I do not have time to deal with yard work. I think professionals could help me get this kind of stuff done!

  14. I love your advice to compost your old leaves and grass clippings for your lawn. I have never competed before so I wouldn’t know how to do it exactly. I’ll hire some professionals to do it for me and have them teach me so I can do it on my own one day.

  15. This project is for a local landscaping (lawn care) website, serving people who live in Chattanooga, Tennessee (United States). A short summary of the site: “At Lawn Care Chatt, we provide services for mowing, weed control, mulching, trimming, and more. We service these Chattanooga Tennessee neighbourhoods:
    Northshore, Red Bank, Hixson, East Brainerd, Lookout Valley, Chattanooga Valley, Alton Park, Avondale, Brainerd, Downtown, East, Chattanooga, East Lake, Eastgate, Glenwood, Highland Park, Missionary Ridge, North Chattanooga, Orchard Knob, Riverview, Southside, St. Elmo, Westside.” You can also visit <Lawn care

  16. Andrea says:

    How to make the compost, This post describe beautifully. This is very helpful tips. Thank you for the post.

  17. Check here says:

    Thanks for sharing this great information. Glad to see this post.

  18. About us says:

    Great article, I love the content on this site.

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    Awesome article! Looking forward to more great information.

  21. Thanks for taking the time in sharing this great information.

  22. Anne Ament says:

    I have found Doug Tallamy’s books on nurturing nature in our own back yards (or front yards) to be an eye opening resource for helping our native plants, bees, birds and insects thrive.

  23. May says:

    Thanks. These are a great guide. Most of the homeowners ( including myself) aren’t aware of this. This is a valuable piece of information.

  24. Billy says:

    I am looking to get further info about this and research myself to hopefully drive more for my house.

  25. Firstly, thanks for sharing the informative post. I am so happy to see this post. We recently bought my first home and we have never had a yard before, so I did not know there are so many factors to consider to have a healthy lawn! You make a great point that it starts organic lawn care. Seriously, I didn’t know about it. Again thanks for your beneficial post.

  26. Site says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing this great content, looking forward to more posts from here.

  27. Kristine says:

    Thanks so much for this! Some parts of this are still a mystery to me, and it’s good to have a useful guide to go back to.

  28. Rose says:

    I’m new to this and really need to set up my home . Looks like I’ll be grabbing this info. Thank you!

  29. Clinton says:

    Great post! I always try to be mindful of the timing of posts but will keep the rest of your guide in mind for next time.

  30. Michael says:

    Thanks! I’l have to look into this! I could definitely use some guide help!

  31. Thanks for sharing its very informative for me

  32. Thanks for sharing this great information.

  33. Thanks for these tips, it’s really helpful. It’s true that fall is the best time to improve your lawn because of its favorable weather condition. I was searching for Handyman Services Woodrow, who did this work for me, and follow your tips.

  34. Miller says:

    Thanks for sharing this, as I have just set up my home this could help me a lot.

  35. Mhar says:

    Have actually been hearing hearing about this but didn’t quite know what it was but now that you mentioned it, I’d sure it will help me a lot.

  36. Philip says:

    What can I put on my lawn to kill weeds in the fall?
    URL: http://www.topshadesailsgoldcoast.com/

  37. Philip Adams says:

    The best time to fertilize can depend on the climate, but typically September and October are usually the best months to apply fall fertilizer. Make sure to complete your fall fertilization 2-3 weeks before the ground freezes to ensure that your lawn reaps the full benefits of the fertilizer and avoids winter damage. about us

  38. Thomas says:

    I just wanted to reach out and say thanks for posting an awesome article on the fall yard care tips. I was really impressed with how you explained the process so that people could easily follow your steps!

    I’m a landscaper by trade, so I know how hard it can be to maintain the yard. Especially during this time of year.

  39. Claire says:

    Control this prickly weed with a fall application of a pre-emergent herbicide. For perennial weeds such as Plantain, Dandelion, Knotweed and Clover, apply a post-emergent herbicide in fall to send the killing chemicals directly to roots. This treatment will help reduce the numbers of these weeds in spring. contact us

  40. Heeey! Thanks for such interesting topic. I think it’s very necessary tips about improving lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden ! I like gardening and believe that once I will buy my own house with great garden.

  41. It was so nice to read your article about how Fall is the best time of year for yard care! I’m a big fan and want to continue learning more this season. I checked out your website and found that you have tons of information on gardening topics

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  43. I just read your article on Organic Lawn Care Tips for the Fall. It was fantastic! I’ve always wanted to start my own lawn care company and this post has given me some great ideas of what to do when starting up. Thanks so much for writing such an informative blog post!

  44. Tree stumps attract insects and other vermin. Termites are a particularly destructive insect that can move to the home when they have grown too large in number to be confined to the stump. The smart move is to grind the stump, and remove the root system supporting it.

  45. John Carston says:

    I like how you mentioned that it is important to consider things that can benefit your soil. My uncle mentioned to me last night that they are planning to have the landscape of their commercial property serviced as their current landscape has discoloration and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if they consult a trusted commercial property landscaping service as they can answer all her inquiries.

  46. Braden Bills says:

    I want to make sure that I take good care of my yard. It makes sense that mulching would be worth doing. I’ll be sure to work with a professional to ensure that I take care of that correctly.

  47. Ric Flair says:

    An amazing and very well-written blog on lawn care tips. The lawn needs a lot of constant care to stay healthy, and this blog will be very helpful for anyone who loves to take care of their lawn. Also, never be afraid to get help from professional lawn care experts, they can revive your lawn, make it healthier and you won’t have to do any hard work at all.

  48. It got me when you said that mulching can help the soil retain moisture and provide nutrients. I would imagine that any business owner would want to maintain their property to attract more customers. I think they should look for professionals who can provide yard maintenance and mulching every few months.

  49. Jeff Carbine says:

    I appreciate that you explained recycling leaves, grass clippings, and garden prunings into “black gold” or compost, a nutrient-rich soil additive. My best friend is looking for some info, this should help him. I appreciate that you helped me learn more about lawn care.

  50. Brent Harrel says:

    Really appreciate you for posting this valuable information in yard tips for the fall.

  51. I would like to improve my home’s lawn area by having its trees trimmed. Thank you for sharing here that a new compost must be added. I also agree with you that new trees must be planted too.

  52. Thank you for sharing this informative article. I hope a lot of people who are inspired by gardening could read this wonderful article.

  53. It’s awesome that your article talked about lawn care and the importance of paying close attention to what our soil is telling us. My wife and I tried to grow a garden and keep our yard looking green and healthy, but we think gardening it’s not for us since everything died, so we’ll look for a professional to help us next week. We appreciate your insight on identifying a sick yard and learning if our lawn needs compost.

  54. Thanks for posting this informative blog post. taking care on ones yard is very hard in fall and this blog will definitely gonna help in taking care of yard.

  55. I read this post and i have to say your post is very informative. Thanks for sharing this post. Robot My Life provides the best Robot vacuum cleaners, robot lawn mowers and robot window cleaners across Australia.

  56. Mia Evans says:

    It’s interesting to know that we can tell the health of the soil depending on the look of our lawn. In my opinion, we already need a lawn fertilization service because of the patchy areas I started to notice. Hopefully, a professional can fix this issue as soon as possible and prepare the property for the winter season as well.

  57. It made sense when you mentioned that aerating your lawn allows you to have healthy soil. My friend told me that their lawn is suffering. I should advise him to seek help from an expert in lawn care treatment to revive her lawn.

    1. Mae says:

      It makes sense. The contributions of other member is very helpful.

  58. Blake says:

    Thanks for these yard tips! 🙂

  59. Blake says:

    This gardening tip is very useful. I really appreciate it.

  60. kurye says:

    Your blog is a treasure trove of practical advice and life lessons.

  61. Amazon Perú says:

    Great article and life lessons. Thanks for sharing!

  62. Albat says:

    Nice post!

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