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Smithsonian gardener reveals more lawn-maintenance tips

From the president’s desk

Previously we discussed different ways you can service your lawns in preparation of the winter months. Here are a few more tips to keeping your lawn healthy and make it easier to bounce back during the spring season.

1. Stop raking leaves

NEVER RAKE LEAVES AGAIN.

Instead of raking and bagging leaves, just mow and shred them. They’ll decompose over winter and feed the lawn.

“If they’re not too thick, I run them over with the mower and leave them in place,” Schneider said. How thick is too thick? “If you still can’t see at least 50 percent of your turf after you chop them up, rake up the rest.”

If you must rake, run them through a shredder and add to your compost pile. Or just leave them in a corner of the yard and let them decompose over winter into leaf mold, which is a great spring meal for your garden.

2. Give tree branches an exam

In fall, when your leaves are all gold and crimson, it’s easy to spot sick or dead branches — the ones with no leaves.

Dead limbs stress trees and can fall on your head (ouch!) or your roof ($!) in a stiff wind.

Mark those branches with ribbons or spray paint so during winter, you’ll know which ones to hack off to promote regrowth in spring.

BTW: To keep branches in their best shape, spread a 1/2-inch layer of compost around the trunk out to the canopy line — “the farther the better,” Schneider said — which feeds the tree during winter and helps it leaf out in spring.

3. Plant some stunners

Just because your trees are barren in fall, doesn’t mean your yard has to look bad.

After the last heat spell of summer, plant cold-weather annuals — pansies, mums and violas — in the front along the foundation to provide some color and interest throughout fall.

Some will even rebloom in spring, meaning less work for you.

4. Set your #gardengoals

Fall is a great time to scroll through all the shots of your yard on your Instagram feed and think about what needs work.

Where are the bald spots?

Which plants look great together?

Which plants should be separated at rebirth next spring?

While the successes and failures are fresh in your mind, jot down a to-do list for when the weather warms up. Then look forward to an easier spring than last year because you’ve done most of the prep now. Sweet.

Rich Cosgrove is the president of Stark Trumbull Area Realtors, which serves Stark, Carroll and Trumbull counties.

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