Updated Oct 15, 2022
Autumn is the perfect time of year to refresh your lawn from summer’s scorching heat and prepare it for winter’s chilly temperatures. Luckily for the less-than-handy homeowner, plenty of tools can help make seasonal lawn care a breeze. We’ll discuss these tools and beyond to help you build a functional fall toolbox.
Fall isn’t just about tumbling leaves and vibrant colors; it’s also about preparing for the winter season to come. Choosing the right equipment to manage your lawn and garden can be crucial when temperatures start dropping.
Hand pruners (also called pruning shears) are garden scissors that clip branches, stems, and leaves. There are several distinct types of hand pruners, and each is useful in a different way when maintaining a fall garden.
Pruning perennials back in the late fall is key to maintaining them through cold temperatures. Most perennials go dormant in the winter, so they’ll enter a slower growth phase with less energy consumption. Certain plants require minimal pruning or none at all, so be sure to research your garden’s inhabitants before breaking out the shears. This PennState Extension guide explains which plants to leave alone before the winter season.
A hand trowel is a nifty garden tool for digging holes and relocating plants. Trowels are handheld shovels that allow the gardener to easily remove dirt from a spot and fill it back in around a freshly planted flower or shrub.
Hand trowels are useful in fall to dig up dried annuals and plant bulbs for the winter season. It’s best to plant new bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips mid-fall or slightly later in the season so they can establish roots before the first frost. A trowel simplifies the planting process by allowing you to scoop up the soil with little effort. The tool’s tip is sharp, helping you to cut through and remove pesky roots as you dig. Opt for a stainless steel trowel for increased durability and rust resistance.
Wheelbarrows are handy tools to have around during the autumn season. These carts allow the user to shift each load’s weight forward, where a rubber wheel does the heavy lifting. These one-wheeled carts take the hassle out of hauling loads of mulch, piles of leaves, and loose plant clippings.
Fall is a season characterized by heaps of colorful leaves you’ll need to rake up and transport to salvage your turf. Adding a wheelbarrow to your autumn lawn maintenance toolbox reduces the physical stress this project requires.
Fall is also the time to mulch around your plant beds to prevent roots from freezing. A wheelbarrow is the best way to transport and dump these loose materials without straining your body. If you doubt you’ll use a wheelbarrow any other time of year, you can rent one from Home Depot for all of your autumn projects.
Rakes are some of the most common lawn tools that fall brings to mind. They’re perfect for raking up leaf piles, spreading mulch, and manually dethatching your turf. Rakes are especially important during fall because they clear away leaves and debris that could suffocate your lawn. If grass sits under leaf cover for too long, it will become matted, dry, and susceptible to fungal disease. For this reason, clearing away that red, orange, and yellow carpet is critical.
If you rake your yard but want to avoid wasting the dried leaves, consider turning them into a compost pile. Leaves are an excellent addition to a compost pile filled with dead plants, grass clippings, and unused mulch. Use your rake to turn the pile every couple of weeks to maintain an evenly distributed mixture.
Before putting your rake back in storage for the season, remember to use it for spreading mulch around your flower beds. Mulching materials such as shredded bark or wood chips will insulate plants’ roots against the oncoming threat of frost.
A hand weeder is a small garden tool used to remove weeds from the ground. This tool has a straight handle like a trowel and a V-shaped prong at the end for pulling weeds up by the roots. Some weeding tools – like this one from Fiskars – have a scooplike structure on the shaft that gives the gardener extra leverage when yanking up stubborn sprouts.
Pulling up weeds in the fall is important if you want to see blooming flowers come spring. Unlike many garden variety plants, weeds are pernicious growers, persevering through even the most unfavorable growing conditions. This means that while your beloved perennials spend the winter in dormancy, weeds are still alive and well – sucking energy from your garden’s most vulnerable plants. The best way to prevent entering spring with a bunch of dead flowers is to remove weeds from the picture. Pulling them up by the roots gives you a better shot at keeping your space weed-free for longer.
Leaf blowers are electric or gas-powered tools that move debris with a strong air stream. This type of equipment is fantastic for blowing leaf piles to one corner of your yard, saving you the task of raking the entire area. We suggest buying a cordless leaf blower like this one from Amazon. Without a cord tethering you to the garage or porch, you’ll be able to clean up the whole yard easily.
A leaf blower is also a lifesaver for removing heaps of leaves from high-up gutters and hard-to-reach downspouts, as clogged gutters will send rainwater splashing down on your lawn and garden. The water can also saturate the ground around your home’s foundation, causing even bigger problems. Clearing the debris throughout the season is the best way to prevent these issues.
Gardening gloves are essential for all of your fall lawn projects. Whether working in your vegetable garden or mulching your flower beds, gloves protect your hands from blisters, bug bites, and nasty cuts.
Consider investing in a pair of heavy-duty work gloves for yard maintenance projects like raking leaves, pruning hedges, and spreading mulch. You never know what kinds of critters and sharp objects you might rake up from your lawn or sweep from your gutters. Opt for waterproof rubber gloves for projects involving pesticides or herbicides. This glove type will protect your skin from harsh chemicals while you beautify your outdoor space.
A garden fork is a handheld pitchfork that allows you to loosen soil and break apart clumps of debris. This tool is especially useful for raking rocks out of your garden bed and breaking up stubborn root systems. If you have a fall leaf pile you’re saving for compost, use a pair of garden forks to toss and stir the heap for well-distributed decomposition.
A fall maintenance lifesaver, garden forks are also one of the essential hand tools for your seasonal vegetable garden. The fork’s prongs, which are called tines, can work through tough clay soil, separating clods away from the freshly grown produce. This tool is also beneficial for harvesting veggies like carrots, beets, and potatoes that grow beneath the soil’s surface.
Leaf scoops are handheld shovels that help you pick up more leaves than you could with your hands. This tool works well alongside a wheelbarrow, leaf blower, and rake. Once you’ve consolidated the leaves to one area, use the leaf scoops to transport heaps into the wheelbarrow.
Although leaf scoops are designed to protect your hands from sharp debris, we still suggest wearing work gloves for any yard work to minimize your risk of injury.
A mulcher is a perfect solution for homeowners with massive leaf piles and nowhere to put them. The tool turns heaps of yard waste into shredded organic mulch. You can then use the leaf matter to dress your garden beds for the cool winter season or add it to your compost pile for quick, efficient decomposition.
Consider buying a three-in-one leaf vacuum, leaf blower, and mulcher for a simplified fall cleanup. This tool can blow leaves to a specific area of your yard, vacuum up the pile, then shred it into compostable bits. It’s also excellent for removing clumps of sticks and leaves from tricky gutter chutes. Once you’re done vacuuming and leaf blowing your outdoor space, you’ll have a clean yard – and homemade mulch to show for it.
Summer and winter are undoubtedly harsh on your lawn and garden, making proper fall maintenance a key step toward a flourishing year-round yard. With these trusty tools in your autumn lineup, your outdoor space will undoubtedly survive the cold weather and flourish in spring.
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