Not gonna lie.That title really doesn't have a whole lot to do with the subject matter today. It just made me smile. Perhaps it's time for more coffee! As I sit and write this morning, it is cold, rainy and dreary. Literally my favorite weather for being wrapped in a fleece and clicking away at the computer. The forecast doesn't really look much more promising. Our nights are dipping into the 30's. Our days are stretching to reach the 60's. In general it is fall in New Hampshire. Icky weather aside, I still love it.

This time of year those of us who maintain our lawns are enjoying a respite from the weekly (or more) mowings. The grass has slowed down its growing significantly and is preparing itself for a winter nap. Today I'd like to explore a few tips that will keep your lawn healthy throughout the hibernation and have it raring to go in the spring. Most of these tips are super easy to complete and will reward you with a healthier lawn next year. Let's get started.

One super easy way to keep your lawn happy this time of year (at least until the white stuff arrives) is to keep mowing. Our lawn has almost entirely stopped growing, but if your yard is starting to get a bit long-in-the-tooth, don't put away your mower just yet. Shorter grass not only makes it easier to rake those pesky leaves, it also allows more sunlight to get in and helps dry out the grass to prevent mold and disease. While taking care not to scalp your poor lawn, don't be afraid to drop the blades a bit and cut it nice and short for the off-season.

While we are talking about leaves, consider mulching them with your mower instead of raking. Most mowers will have the ability to add a fancy mulching attachment designed just for this purpose. The mixture of the mulched leaves combined with leftover grass clippings is quite yummy for your lawn. Depending on how the weather dictates your schedule, you could even alternate weeks with and without the mulching. Of course if you have a huge amount of leaves on your lawn, you should likely reconsider this strategy. In those cases, I strongly recommend making a big pile and jump in!

Whether or not you take the mulching route, you do need to clean up those leaves in some way. While working for a landscaping company down in Portsmouth, my boss told me that raking grass (and fluffing up shrubs) was like having someone with long fingernails massage your scalp. It's heavenly. Give your lawn the same treatment and scratch its scalp before putting it down for its wintery nap. Removing the leaves is super important anyway and cleaning up the dead grass and other "stuff" that has collected down there over the summer will be a nice treat.

This is also a good time to repair any trouble-spots on your lawn. Fall is a strong growing season for many species of grass. Adding lawn repair to those bald spots is a great way to help it recover over the winter. "Those all-in-one grass repair mixtures are amazingly effective," notes Badger Realty agent, Ralph Cronin. "They take the guesswork out of the repair process and show results in just a couple of weeks," he continued.

For the more aggressive lawn lovers out there, this is the perfect time to aerate your lawn as well. While working at the golf course over in Campton (Yes, I've had 100 jobs!) we aerated the fairways and greens every other year. If the professionals are doing it you can rest assured it is good for your back yard as well. It's just not great for your putting game! This process is great for opening up the soil a bit to allow more oxygen, water and nutrients down deep where it is needed. You can rent an aerator at most tool rental shops or simply have the pro's come and take care of it for you.

Lastly, and moving up a bit from the lawn, this is the perfect time of year to tidy up errant trees and bushes. You will have removed fallen branches and limbs while you were raking, but look up and around while you are out there and make note of any potential trouble-spots. Branches hanging over the roof or near windows and power lines are certainly worth trimming back or removing. Just picture those same limbs with 10 pounds of heavy, wet snow hanging on them. This will help you visualize where they will be hanging during our January thaw.

Taking care of your lawn can be a bit daunting, but having a healthy lawn can also be a source of pride. It's also where your pets and kids will spend lots of time this coming spring, so why not give it the best chance of being happy and healthy (That's right, your lawn can be happy - I think the coffee is working!). Once you are done with the newspaper, take a walk around your yard and get a little to-do list going. I'll see you at the tool rental shop!

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