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How to Get Your Lawn & Garden Ready for Fall
Written by Matthew C. Keegan // 2011/09/29 // Yard and Garden // No comments
With summer now behind us, fall is the perfect time of the year to prepare your lawn and garden for the cooler months ahead. This means taking some steps now before the first hard freeze sets in and getting your work done before fall gives way to winter.
Let’s look at some steps you can begin to take this weekend:
Sow seeds — With temperatures now much cooler than there were this summer, grass seed has an excellent chance of taking hold, especially before the first hard freeze sets in. Rye and fescue can be planted now advises Paul James for HGTV, giving both seeds a chance to develop strong root systems over the coming weeks. 
Attack weeds — Winter weeds are ready to take over your lawn, but can be beaten back now by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. From about September 15 on, your lawn is vulnerable to winter weeds which are especially tough to handle wherever lawns do not freeze completely over the winter. 
Plant vegetables — The days are shorter and cooler, but some vegetables thrive and can be planted now. Greens, particularly lettuce, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, can be planted along with cauliflower, carrots, turnips and potatoes. Herbs too! Thumbelina carrots mature in about 65 days and taste sweeter when grown in cold conditions. 
Use compost — Rake up your vegetable garden bed and prepare it for winter by applying a fresh layer of compost. Spread several inches of compost on top of the existing bed and till it in next spring advises the New York City Compost Project. Compost will continue to break down as long as temperatures are still warm and serve as a protective barrier until ready to be spread in next March. 
Plant a tree — You don’t have to wait until next spring to plant a tree. Fall, with its cooler temperatures and generally abundant rainfall, makes for a good time as well according to Purdue University Consumer Horticulture. However, Purdue advises that some trees such as “magnolia, dogwood, tuliptree, sweet gum, red maple, birch, hawthorn, poplars, cherries, plum and many of the oaks” should be planted in the spring because these are susceptible to winter damage.  Check with your state extension service to find out which tree species can be planted now in your area.
Falling leaves are, of course, another matter you’ll need to d...