As leaves turn color and drop to the ground, they hearken more than just the changing of the seasons. To homeowners, a lawn full of leaves means it’s time to break out the rakes and leaf blowers, or else put in a call to the local landscaping company. Hiring a pro to clean up your lawn before winter makes sense, as they have the tools and experience to do the job quickly and thoroughly. Much more than just leaf cleanup, a complete fall lawn care service prepares your yard for peak performance when the weather starts to warm up again.
Fall Lawn Maintenance: What’s Involved
The most basic fall cleanup service will include the removal of leaves, twigs, and other debris from your lawn. Almost all landscaping companies, however, offer additional services aimed at addressing not only your lawn, but also your gardens and perennials. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience harsh winters, some of the grounds maintenance tasks described below may not be necessary:
- Pruning: Trimming any dead or dying parts from shrubs and perennials will help them to endure the cold weather and maximize spring growth.
- Weeding and Removal of Annuals: Just as leaf removal is essential to lawn health, it is also important to pull up weeds and annual flowers before winter sets in.
- Lawn Cutting: The final grass trimming of the year is an important one, as it helps to promote optimal lawn health and growth during the upcoming season.
- Winterize Shrubs and Plants: Vulnerable garden species should be protected from the cold. Techniques include using burlap, dirt, and mulch for added insulation.
- Applying Fertilizer and Weed Killer: Fertilizing, liming (done in areas with acidic soil), and applying compost before the winter allows essential nutrients to penetrate the soil during the winter. You might also have a cover crop (aka “green manure”) of quick-sprouting annuals planted to improve soil health and protect against winter erosion. Pre-emergent weed killer can also be applied before winter to retard weed growth in the spring.
- Aeration: Lawn aeration consists of extracting plugs of soil and grass, either manually or with a machine that resembles an oversized lawnmower. Whichever method is used, the benefit is the same: your lawn’s root system is better able to absorb oxygen, water, fertilizers, and nutrients.
- Stake New Trees: Staking young trees in place protects them from winter winds and damp soil until their root systems mature.
- Drainage Issues: If poor drainage resulted in water damage to your home last winter and spring, you should address the problem in the fall. The solution could be as simple as planting some shrubs and trees, or as complicated as tearing up your lawn and removing obstructions.
Fall Yard Cleanup Service Costs
The primary factors affecting lawn care service costs are property size, the numbers of trees and plants to be winterized, the amount of leaves to be removed, the number of crew members, the type of equipment used, whether any additional services are performed, and the amount of time needed to complete the job.
- A fall cleanup of a 1/3 to 1/2 acre lawn might cost approximately $200 – $1,200, although $250 – $500 is more typical.
- Landscaping companies usually charge $30 – $50 per person per hour. A 3-man crew, for example, might cost $90 – $150 per hour.
- Some companies might charge a $200 – $300 minimum depending on the size of your lot.
- Services that are far above and beyond general maintenance – addressing drainage issues, for example – will raise the total project cost significantly.