Your Fall and Winter Landscape Checklist

by | Nov 4, 2018

As the temperatures start dropping, people start readying themselves for winter. While we may not take as drastic measures as our animal friends, people do have annual their own fall and winter rituals.  Squirrels gather nuts to last them until spring, birds migrate south, and bears find a warm place to hibernate. You may notice your neighbor putting up Christmas lights as the shopping and meal planning begins.

A lot of this seems obvious, but they are annual rituals nonetheless. A helpful routine to add to your fall and winter rituals is that of landscaping maintenance. It’s likely that you already do many of these things, but perhaps on more of an as-needed basis.

Following a landscape checklist like the one below will help you manage your yard, ensuring that come spring, you’ll be ready to step back into regular maintenance instead of doing any major overhauls.

Lawn Care:


  • Use fall grass fertilizer on your lawn, and overseed new lawn or spots that need refreshing (overseed beginning in mid-September for Michigan’s cold-weather climate)
  • Rake leaves as needed


  • Avoid walking on dormant or frozen lawns, and use alternatives to salt (sand or kitty litter) as appropriate

Garden Care:


  • Harvest vegetables before the first frost and compost a vegetable garden
  • Cut perennials back to 6 inches above the soil, and divide and replant any that are overcrowded
  • Dig and store non-hardy bulbs for next year
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs and cool-season annuals


  • Order seeds for spring
  • Review wintering bulbs, and discard any that are rotten or soft

Hardscape Care:


  • Clean tools after use, storing them after the last use, along with hoses and outdoor furniture
  • Drain permanent water systems, pools and ponds, and shut off sprinkler systems
  • Run gas engine mowers until empty (or add fuel stabilizer)


  • Check irrigation systems for cracks
  • Clear decks, patios and walkways of snow, and lay salt or salt alternatives (sand, kitty litter) as necessary
  • If necessary (and as weather permits), repair stone and concrete walls
  • Organize tools in your garage or shed
  • Repair broken elements such as arbors or pergola while vines and shrubs are dormant

Trees, Shrubs and Groundcover Care:


  • Rake and compost leaves, and clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees
  • For rose bush maintenance: cut back rose canes to a foot tall and cover them with soil, and wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay them on the ground and cover them with soil or mulch
  • Plant new additions such as oak, holly and beautyberry, and mulch and regularly water newly planted conifers


  • Plant bare-root roses as soon as possible
  • If there hasn’t been much snow, water newly planted evergreens
  • Wrap trees with tree guards to protect from rodent damage, and wrap tender foundation shrubs in burlap
  • Prune fruit trees in late winter and spray with dormant oil

By incorporating the above maintenance steps into your annual routine, you’ll be able to keep your yard in great shape during the wind-down of fall and the dormant months of winter.

Need help with that annual maintenance? J&S Landscaping can help you both make the most of what you currently have and elevate your space. 

If you are thinking about making an upgrade such as constructing a bonfire pit or installing a water feature, contact us today!

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