Getting your property ready ahead of the long, cold winter is integral to the success of your next growing season.

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Fall lawn and garden clean-up is something many homeowners do in preparation for the long winter ahead, explains Matt Blashaw, a licensed contractor and Spectracide partner. "There are a few critical actions that must be done in order to keep your lawn safe from unwanted pests and prepare it for a lush beginning come next spring." Ahead, why a little autumnal yard maintenance is a must for your garden and lawn's longevity, according to Blashaw—plus, the tasks to complete when the weather starts to cool.

Get started early.

You should begin your clean-up at the start of the fall. "The weather will be much nicer to work in and the lawn will be prepared before its hibernation in the frigid months," Blashaw explains. By getting started sooner, you can also avoid having to squeeze this project into the already-busy holiday season.

De-thatch your lawn and fight weeds.

First on the to-do list? De-thatch your lawn and remove all of the dead leaves and grass blocking the soil. "When the thatch gets too dense, it can put a chokehold on your lawn and deprive it from essential sunshine and nutrients," he explains. "Either use a hard rake to remove it or have a professional lawn company do what's called vertical cutting." Blashaw says he performs this task in October or November. "After de-thatching is complete, it's essential to apply a product to fight the weeds that will pop up in spring, he says, "and don't forget to over-seed after both of these processes, as well."

Clean your garden beds and apply mulch.

You should also take the opportunity to apply any fallen leaves (which can act as a natural mulch) around any plants that need protection and cut back varieties that could be wind-whipped during winter. "The early fall is also the best time to clean up your planter beds. It's a must to add mulch after the cleanup is compete. Not only does it look great, but it also provides a layer of insulation for the plants when temperatures drop below zero," he says, adding that he's a fan of cedar mulch. "I like the look, as well as its insect repellent qualities."

woman raking leaves front yard fall
Credit: Zave Smith Photography / Getty Images

Maintenance matters.

Failing to clean out old plant material, deal with fallen leaves, or de-thatch your grass can leave both your lawn and garden in poor states come spring. "During the cold winter months, you need to have the lawn in the best shape possible," Blashaw explains. "Weeds and thatch can rob lines of vital nutrients it needs in order to hibernate properly." In your garden, forgotten weeds and overgrown plants can create a haven for unwanted pests, as well, while also making a big mess that you will have to deal with at the start of the next growing season.

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