While it may not be as rewarding up front as planting new spring flowers, getting your lawn and gardens ready for winter will be a real time saver come next year. Here are some tips to help you organize a fall clean-up.
Dead-head perennials. Remove spent annuals after the first frost, but resist the urge to prune perennials to the ground as this can invite insects and fungal infections. Always wait until spring when the first new growth appears before cutting perennials back.
Dig tender plants such as canna lily, dahlia and annual geraniums right after the first frost. Air dry plants and store in a cool dry location for the winter.
Don’t forget to water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens. The general rule is one inch of water per week. So check your rain gauge.
Collect soil samples from several locations in your lawn and around your trees. Have both samples tested. If lawn samples indicate a low pH apply lime now. Fertilize trees if soil samples indicate a deficiency.
If you are planning on reseeding or over seeding your lawn be sure to do it in October.
- Cool season grasses benefit from fall applications of fertilizer. Nurserymen recommend three applications during the fall months. Cool season grasses include bluegrass, fescue and rye grass. Warm season grasses include zoysia, buffalo and Bermuda grass.
- Broadleaf herbicides can be applied now to control cool season weeds.
- For those who garden organically and shy away from herbicides and petroleum based fertilizers, a lush lawn is attainable. Organic fertilizers are available. Bradfield Organics, a local company, produces organic fertilizers specifically designed for lawns. If you choose an organic use a 3-1-5 fertilizer in the fall.
- Rake your lawn to help keep it healthy. Your grass can actually be smothered when covered by a deep layer of leaves.
By Jeanne Baker, MLA, Landscape Designer