It’s fall, baby! Back to school season, harvest season, spooky season—it’s pretty much all the best seasons wrapped up into one. All we want is to wrap ourselves in chunky cardigans and chug pumpkin spice lattés like our life depends on it, but it’s still important to make time for a thorough yard clean-up! A snowy winter is on the horizon, and you want to make sure your landscape is clean and ready for the big freeze.

Complete This Fall Yard Clean-Up Checklist Before the Snow Flies

When you clean and prepare your yard for winter, it isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about maintaining the health of your plants and soil! This checklist will help break down your tasks into bite-sized chunks, so you can complete all the essentials while still leaving plenty of time to frolic through the leaves. We all deserve a good frolic now and again. 


Divide Your Perennials

Perennials require division every 3–5 years. As their roots continue to grow and spread, the center of the root ball gets crowded and dies out, resulting in a donut-shaped plant with a hole in the middle. Ideally, you want to divide your perennials before the bald patch appears, so if they look crowded, now is the time to divide and conquer! 

Gently dig up your plant and split the root ball into 2 or 3 pieces. Remove any dead or diseased pieces from the roots. Then, you can plant one of the divisions in the original hole and replant the other pieces elsewhere—or share them with the hot neighbor down the street. 


Dees Nursery-Long Island-Fall Yard and Garden Clean Up Checklist-cutting back perennials for the winter

Cut Back Perennial Foliage

Not all perennials need pruning in preparation for winter, but some do! If their leaves break down and get slimy under the wet snow, you’ll want to cut them back in the fall so that your yard is clean and tidy for spring. However, if they maintain their form and add winter interest to the landscape, you can leave them be! Cut back the leaves once they’re dead and brown, and toss them in the compost if they’re disease-free. 

Here are some perennials you should clean up before winter hits Long Island:

  • Hostas
  • Peonies
  • Daylilies
  • Tulips
  • Ground clematis
  • Hardy begonias
  • Sunflowers
  • Japanese anemone
  • Penstemon
  • Yarrow
  • Salvia


Dethatch, Overseed, and Fertilize the Lawn

Dethatching is like combing your lawn’s hair—you’re eliminating all the mats and tangles in the grass! This allows new grass seeds to take root and sprout, making the overall look cleaner. Drag your rake all across the ground to rip up those gnarly bits, then sprinkle a thin layer of fresh soil on top—preferably, a soil mix formulated for new grass. 

Evaluate your lawn to see if any bare patches need special attention. Then, spread your new grass seed and water it daily until it sprouts! Once it has filled out, apply some low-nitrogen fertilizer with a good amount of phosphorus and potash; this will help your new grass look green and clean in 2023! 


Dees Nursery-Long Island-Fall Yard and Garden Clean Up Checklist-soil ph testerTest the Soil pH

Soil pH can fluctuate over time, and you’ll typically want to keep it balanced for optimal plant growth. Perform a soil test to see how things look, and add amendments if your soil is too acidic or alkaline. They take a little while to work their magic, but your soil will be in much better shape by spring. 


Rake and Clean Up Leaves and Lawn Debris

If there’s only a light sprinkling of leaves across the lawn this fall, you don’t have to clean them up. Leaves provide shelter for overwintering insects, so as soon as your spring flowers emerge, there will be lots of pollinators nearby to lend a hand! However, if you have lots of trees and a big, thick layer of leaves and debris across the yard, you’ll definitely want to grab the rake. Those leaves will get heavy and wet under the snow—a breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck!


Dees Nursery-Long Island-Fall Yard and Garden Clean Up Checklist-pulling weeds from the gardenTackle Those Weeds

We know you’re probably sick of pulling weeds this late in the game, but trust us—you don’t want to neglect this important part of fall yard clean-up! Your clean, tidy, weed-free yard will be much easier to maintain once spring arrives. 


Need any assistance or product recommendations for fall yard clean-up on Long Island? Stop by Dees’ Nursery, and our friendly staff will set you up with everything you need to tackle your fall to-do list!