You’re not alone in the appreciation of cooler, fall weather. The lawn, trees and shrubs like it too. Early morning dew is natures perfect way to water the lawn and give a mild drink to the plants in your beds. Now is the time to do some winter prep work to get the lawn and shrubs a head start in the Spring.
LAWN: A good winter fertilizer put down with a broadcast spreader will feed your lawn over the winter, helping it stay strong and fend off the harsh weather it will be covered with. Even though the exposed grass goes dormant, the roots will love you for the nourishment. This will aid in building a stronger lawn and keep the weeds to a minimum.
LEAVES: They call it Fall for a reason, the leaves fall off the trees and you have to clean it up. Here is a great way to make that chore a little easier as long as your township or city does curb leaf cleanup. Most of us have some large piece of sheet plastic or tarp in the garage or shed. Make sure it’s at least 8’x8’. Rake an area in the yard clean to lay the plastic down. Now use this plastic as your pile station. Once it’s covered with a nice big pile of leaves, just grab a corner and slide it out to the curb. Believe it or not, this actually takes less time than using a blower. Just remember, what leaves you miss today will likely have company tomorrow so get it as best you can then go watch the game.
SHRUBS: There are so many shrub varieties and the way they react to the colder weather are as different. Arborvitaes’ will thin themselves with some leaf browning. Burning bushes turn blazing red then drop their leaves. Most evergreens are just that, “Evergreen” through the fall and winter. Don’t panic is some of your shrubs look ill, most times they are just preparing for a long winters’ nap. Of coarse if something in your bed has died, Fall is the best time to replace it. Same holds true for adding new material. The cooler temps give it the best chance to retain moisture longer. There is the least care involved, some daily watering, if you plant new in the Fall.
Here’s some basic planting tips:
- Plan what you want to do
- Place the plant in the spot you want to plant it making sure the spouse approves
- Twist the pot or ball around in place so to leave an indent
- Remove it and dig the hole at least twice as wide and just a little deeper then you need
- Unless you have really good soil, spread a shovel full of peat moss and a handful of plant fertilizer in the hole. This will help the shrub get a good start.
- Place the plant in the hole. Make sure it’s not set in too deep. The trunk should not be lower then the existing ground level. If it’s a potted plant, remove the plastic pot and check the roots. * Most nurseries fertilize the heck out of their plants and they can become root bound. If it looks like the roots are strangling it, take a knife and make about 4 slits in the bottom and sides of the root area. You just want to cut that outer wrap of roots so they can spread out in the ground you’re placing them in. If the plant is balled it likely won’t be root bound. You will need to untie the burlap from the trunk and lay it along the sides of the base in the hole. Don’t remove it completely if it is burlap. If the wrap is a mesh type plastic, that should be removed completely by sliding it out from under once the plant is set in the hole. The burlap will break down in the ground, the plastic won’t.
- Step back and look at the plant to make sure it’s positioned the best way. Fullest side out and most pleasant shape in view.
- Start filling in all around the plant with good soil “healing” it in as you bring the level up. * Healing is pressing the soil in with your heal to remove as much air from the soil as you can. This allows as much soil to be added as possible and minimizes the amount of ground settling once water is added.
- Finish filling the hole and leave it about an inch low. This will allow for a slight “water dish”. Throw some mulch over the disturbed area and water it in with a slow flow close to the trunk. Now you’re finished.
Now go get the snow blower out and make sure it will start “before” it snows!!!
That’s it for now. If you have any projects or questions just write to me with the Subject line joeknows@examiner and you’ll get an answer.