October 29, 2014
I thought that this would be a good time to review the things that you should be doing and in some cases not doing around your home this fall.
Let’s start with the lawn. If you haven’t put any lime on your lawn in the last year, now is a great time to apply lime to your lawn. If your soil is too acidic, lime will help to neutralize that acidity. Weeds grow very well in an acidic soil. In a slightly acidic soil, it is harder for weeds to grow and much easier for grass to grow. If you haven’t applied your fall fertilizer, now is the time. A fall feeding will strengthen the roots and help with the early green-up of your lawn. You should keep up with mowing the grass. If the grass is left too long during the winter months, the blades of grass will fold over and mat down. This will lead to diseases that can kill the grass in the spring. You should get those leaves raked up and put into your compost pile. If you have too many and your municipality has a leaf pick-up time or drop off time, make sure that you get the leaves ready to go. If you do have a small compost pile or if you plan to start one in the spring, all those grass clippings you get in the spring will need some dead leaves to mix with those grass clippings if you want the composting to work properly. Keep a few large plastic bags filled with leaves and keep them over the winter. In the spring, you will have the dried up leaves that you need for adding to your compost pile.
Your flowerbeds will need to be cleaned up before winter. Most perennials can be cut back to the ground. If you are not sure which ones should not be cut back in the fall, ask before you cut them back. Most perennial beds will benefit from an application of lime this fall. You can also help the root system of the plants by applying some fertilizer after the plants are cut back. Your vegetable garden should be cleaned up and any dead material should be removed. Any diseased leaves or old vegetables should be removed from the garden. This will help to prevent any return of diseases next spring. You should apply a cover crop of winter rye to help to hold the soil in place. Come the spring, you should till the winter rye into the soil to add valuable organic matter to the soil.
Many of you will want to prune back shrubs in the fall. There are some shrubs that can be pruned back in the fall and some that should not be pruned back in the fall. If the shrubs flower in early spring, any pruning in the fall will be removing the flower buds that would have opened in the spring. As always, ask first if you are not sure what you can and cannot be pruning in the fall.
You still have time to plant tulip, daffodil, crocus and other spring flowering bulbs. If you want these flowers to appear in the spring, they must be planted in the fall. If you plant these bulbs in groups of three to ten bulbs in a square foot size hole, you can plant a lot of bulbs in a short period of time. You can plant these bulbs until the ground freezes. We continue to have a nice selection of these bulbs at our garden center.
Many of your shrubs are prone to damage from the cold winds of winter. If you have broadleaf evergreens or if you have rosebushes or hydrangeas, they can be easily damaged by dry winter winds. You can spray the leaves or the canes with a product called Wilt Pruf. This product is a wax that is applied before temperatures consistently drop before 40 degrees. The waxy coating cuts down moisture lost to the wind by 30 to 50%. If you think back to the damage that showed up from last winter’s polar vortex winds, then you will definitely apply Wilt Pruf this fall. You can also wrap the shrubs with burlap to help to prevent wind damage.
Well, that is an overview of the things you should be doing this fall. If you start now, you should be able to beat the first snowfall.
I’ll talk to you again next week.