What a lovely time of year autumn is. The weather finally cools, the leaves start to turn beautiful colors and the holidays aren’t far off. Fall is a busy time for landscape maintenance; in fact, busier than most may realize. Follow these five helpful fall landscaping reminders for a healthier yard and plants.
While fall colors are beautiful, those same leaves begin dropping after they turn those beautiful colors. Fallen leaves should be removed regularly from lawns, shrub planters and hardscape areas. Not only is this a regular maintenance item, but it helps the lawn, shrubs and living ground cover to receive enough sunlight to thrive.
Fall is a good time of year to apply pre-emergent herbicide in your planters to prevent the cool season weeds from germinating, making your autumn and winter yard maintenance much easier. Be sure to consult a landscape professional for the recommended pre-emergent product for your needs, and always be sure to read the label and apply per the directions; and follow their recommendations.
This time of year is also a great time to fertilize lawns and shrubs. Consult a landscape professional for recommended formulations and brands. Typically, though, you would want to use a balanced fertilizer. Make sure to apply it according to label instructions, and to water it in per the manufacturer’s recommendations. There are many organic fertilizers available, too, which allow for a “greener” approach to landscaping. Make sure to ask your landscape or nursery professional about these options as well.
Mature trees that are able to support themselves and whose calipers are sufficiently developed usually no longer need the lodgepole stakes that are installed when a tree is planted. After a certain amount of time, it may appear the trees are holding up the stakes rather than the other way around. Once the trees no longer need the stakes, they should be removed. If they cannot be pulled up, they can be broken off or sawed off at grade level. Please be sure to remove any sharp edges if they’re left, and remember to properly dispose of the old stakes. Make sure to also remove any remaining nursery stakes (the small, usually bamboo, stakes on a tree when bought from the nursery) from any tree that may have them still attached.
As an FYI, now is a great time to make seasonal programming adjustments to your irrigation controller. The rate at which water evaporates from the soil and transpires through leaves into the atmosphere, called evapo-transpiration (ET), is much lower in the autumn, due to the cooler weather. The days are also shorter, so even the warmer days don’t stay warm for as long, and the longer nights are cool. Many types of plants and grasses go dormant in the winter, including deciduous shrubs and trees. So lawns and plants don’t require as much water. Once we get into mid-November, and assuming we get a normal amount of rainfall this year, you can turn your irrigation controllers off until February or March.
Ron Clark, CMCA
Associa M & C Association Management Services, Inc.