Denise Mathews, Realtor, is a Northwest Indiana born, raised, and lifelong resident and multiple business owner. Join her in exploring The Region thru the Northwest Indiana Living website & social media sites.

As the weather breaks into fall in Northwest Indiana, it’s a perfect time to turn your attention to your home’s yard and begin creating curb appeal for spring. You don’t need a big budget or a landscaping crew to make a noticeable impact on how your yard looks, either. You can start by working with what you have – your existing landscape – and elevate it to new heights without breaking the bank.

Here are 5 easy (and mostly free) projects you can do this fall to get a jumpstart on improving and creating curb appeal, and by default, what your NW Indiana home is worth… 

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Photo Credit: Denise Mathews with NWIndianaLiving.com

Fall Lawn Prep Is Crucial To Quickly Creating Curb Appeal For Next Spring

The fall is a great time to invest in the foundation of your entire landscaping – your lawn. A green, vibrant yard should be your first step when creating curb appeal. If you have only enough time to tackle one project this fall to improve your landscaping, make it fall lawn prep.

Northwest Indiana’s unpredictable winter weather is harsh on the yard, though, and a beautiful lawn needs extra preparation in the fall to quickly rebound in the spring. Using any/all of these easy fall tips will give your lawn a huge jumpstart on quick spring curb appeal.

Fall Lawn Preparation

(Click To See Each Preparation For The Lawn)

FALL MOWING
LAWN AERATION
OVERSEEDING
FERTILIZATION
WEED CONTROL

Fall Lawn Mowing

As the fall progresses, cut your lawn a little shorter each time to reach about 2 inches long from a summertime preferred 3 to 3.5 inches. This shorter height helps prevent diseases that our snow-covered, Northwest Indiana winters bring.

Lawn Aeration

Aerating the lawn by poking long, skinny holes in it is one of the best things you can do for your lawn’s health. (There are tools for that). Aerating ensures nutrients, water and air can stimulate grass root growth for a beautiful lawn, says Lawnlove’s instructional blog.

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Overseeding The Lawn

The cool early fall nights make overseeding – giving your established lawn a light sprinkle of new grass seed – an easy time to thicken your lawn and introduce better strains of grass seed when the goal is creating spring curb appeal. Thick lawns are a natural weed deterrent too!

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Nitrogen-heavy fall fertilization is the most important fertilize of the whole season as it gives the lawn nutrients to get through the cold NW Indiana winter. An Ohio State University study states spring lawn green-up occurs 2 to 6 weeks earlier for fall fertilized lawns. Now that’s a jumpstart on creating spring curb appeal!

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Lawn Weed Control

Fall is the best time to kill many weeds, such as clover that germinate in the cool fall weather, before they even start to grow in the spring. Often, you can combine weed killing into the fertilization process with one bag of Weed and Feed. (Don’t use weed control for 6 weeks after overseeding). 

Photo Credit: Denise Mathews with NWIndianaLiving.com

TIP: Bonus points when you aerate your lawn first before you overseed and/or fertilize. These little seed-and-nutrient-packed lawn divots will pack a very big punch when creating curb appeal very quickly in the spring!

Creating Curb Appeal For Free By Dividing And Transplanting Perennials

Get a free jumpstart on creating curb appeal for the spring by strategically dividing and transplanting perennials. Older, well-established plants need to be divided every so often and it’s a great way to get many new, free plants to fill out your landscaping.

The cooler weather in early fall is an ideal time to transplant and/or divide most perennials so they have time to establish new roots before winter.

6 Steps To Successfully Dividing and Transplanting Perennials

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Different plants have various requirements, such as ornamental grasses, which should never be divided in the fall. A quick Google search will prevent ill-timed mistakes in creating curb appeal for spring.

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To reduce stress to the transplant, prepare its new location in advance so it can be re-planted immediately. Boost the soil by adding compost or organic matter for healthy root growth in the fall and wait to fertilize until spring. 

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Before transplanting or dividing your plant, water it to make it easier to remove as well as minimize stress to the roots. Also Water immediately after transplanting to settle the soil and remove air pockets.

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Use a sharp spade or knife to cut the plants into sections, making sure each section has both roots and foliage. Handle the roots gently to avoid root damage.

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Apply a layer of mulch around newly transplanted plants to help retain moisture and protect them from winter temperatures.

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After the transplant has been in the ground for a week or so, prune back any excess foliage to reduce stress on the newly divided plant. 

TIP: If you are in the very beginning stages of creating curb appeal at your home, “borrowing” from your friends and family perennials is a great way to get a variety of plants for free. Offer to divide and transplant their mature plants in exchange for a few transplants for yourself!

Spring Curb Appeal Is Easy With Spring Bulbs

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One of the quick and easy secrets to a colorful spring landscape is to spend a day planting spring-blooming bulbs in the fall. Varieties like tulips and daffodils are perfect spring bulbs for NW Indiana.

The key to successful blooms is to plant them at the proper depth and spacing. Don’t let fall pass by without getting bulbs in the ground!

Pruning Your Trees And Shrubs In Zone 5b

Trimming and pruning your trees and shrubs makes a big impact when creating curb appeal. Your home gets an immediate appearance boost, as well as pruning makes for healthier plants.

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Photo Credit: F. Muhammad from ArtisticOperations.com

When pruning, start by removing dead or diseased growth. In densely growing plants, thin out overlapping branches for better light and air circulation. Then cut back long, leggy branches to maintain the plant’s natural shape and size.

Timing

The best time to prune plants in The Region’s  Zone 5b weather zone is late fall or early winter after the plants have gone dormant but before severe cold sets in.

Know Your Plants

Different plants have different pruning needs. Do a quick research on your trees and shrubs, especially if it’s a spring-flowering variety, to prevent any timing mistakes.

Tools And Safety

Correctly use the proper tool for the job and make sure it’s clean and sharp for healthy pruning. DO NOT forget to waer safety glasses, long sleeves, and gloves!

Leaf Maintenence Is A Must

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Dealing with fallen leaves is one of the most important aspects of fall lawn prep. Although a colorful coating of fall leaves is actually beautiful, it is terrible for your lawn. A thick layer of leaves can smother a lawn and block needed sunlight and air, needed for healthy grass.

It’s best to be proactive in your leaf maintenance, keeping up with leaves as they fall so the job stays manageable. Nobody wants to tackle a buildup of leaves! One easy way to tackle early leaves is to mow them into the lawn where they can decompose.

Methods To Deal With Leaves

  • Regular raking or mowing into the yard.
  • Leaf blowers and vacuums can make the task of leaf maintenance more efficient.
  • Composting them into your compost pile. Your garden soil will love the nutrient-rich compost in the spring as a natural fertilizer!
  • Some towns have leaf collection days where you can rake your leaves to the road and a leaf collection truck collects them for the town’s mulch. Otherwise, you may have to bag them.
  • Use leaves as a winter, protective mulch in your garden beds.  
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