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Have More Time for Football: 15-minute Garden and Lawn Drills

(ARA) – Whether tailgating, playing a game of catch with the kids, cheering on your favorite team from the stands or calling plays from the couch – fall means football. A few simple tips can keep outdoor projects from running interference on your weekend game schedule.

Here are 10- to 15-minute garden and lawn drills to keep your focus on the game and yard work on the sideline this fall:

* Lawns can get damaged when kids and pets play on grass that is still wilting from summer heat and drought. Spruce up your lawn by reseeding with a quality grass seed and lawn food specifically designed to help seed germinate, like Scotts Starter Fertilizer. Fall is the best time for grass. Keep the seed and young grass watered and hold off on any weed control until the new grass has been mowed four times.

* Feed the grass. The difference between “so-so” grass and truly beautiful grass, both now and next spring, is two fall feedings. Feeding in early September helps your lawn begin rebuilding grass roots that were damaged during the hot, dry summer. Feed again in late October to prepare for winter, using Scotts Winter Guard once new seed is established.

* Create patches of color in your landscape by filling pots with fall flora. Replace tired-looking summer plants with mums, asters, pansies and flowering cabbage. Look for special displays at local garden centers and add Miracle-Gro potting soil to your containers for big, beautiful blooms.

* Clean up the garden. Perennials may now be past their prime and the summertime vegetable garden may be looking a bit sparse. If so, cut them back. This will help keep bugs and disease away. Use what you cut to start a compost pile.

* Prevent tree leaves from smothering grass. Contrary to popular belief, fallen tree leaves will not insulate the lawn during winter. In fact, they can block vital sunlight and cause turf to thin. So, drop the rake and mulch leaves to dime-sized pieces with a lawn mower. Leave clippings on the lawn to allow leaves to recycle back into the soil, providing food for earthworms and soil microbes.

* Plant spring-blooming bulbs now for bursts of color later. Visit a local garden center for a great selection of daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, tulip and other spring-flowering bulbs. Plant in masses or tuck patches into other beds for a surprise of spring color. Feed with Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Bone Meal for strong root development.

* Due to cooler temperatures, fall is a great time to plant a tree or shrub. Soils stay warm late into the fall which allows for good root development and less transplant shock. Roots will also have an easier time starting new growth again in early spring, and plants are often on sale in autumn. Be sure to use Miracle-Gro Quick Start Transplant Starting Solution to help prevent transplant shock and provide essential nutrients.

Mow at a “summer height” of 2 to 3 inches until your grass stops growing – into early winter. Do not lower your height for the final cut.

* Clean up tools for a fresh start next spring. They have served you well all season, but now it is time to put them away. To prevent rusting, give tools a good cleaning before hanging up, and then spray a light coating of common household oil. When finished mowing for the year, perform any mower maintenance before storage for winter. Sharpen mower blades, change the spark plug, and be sure to drain the gas or run the engine dry of fuel.

With these quick drills in the rotation, the garden and lawn will stay in tip-top shape leaving plenty of time to catch games. They also will look great for any impromptu tailgate parties. These simple tasks will make life easier next spring and give the garden and lawn a head start.