The weather is still warm, but autumn has officially arrived! Cooler weather is around the corner. It’s time to do a few chores before your lawn and garden go into winter slow-down.
PULL A SOIL SAMPLE.
This least-done maintenance chore may be the most important one. Your County Extension Office is the government agency responsible for helping citizens to improve their land. The service is free of charge. Find your local Extension agent HERE. Contact the office and learn exactly how to pull your sample and have it tested. The results will tell you just what your soil lacks and what amendments, such as compost or lime, may ensure that your lawn and plants have the best chance for winter survival and a healthy start in the spring. Jeremy DeLisle, program coordinator for the University of New Hampshire Extension Education Center in Goffstown, NH, tells us that your baseline results “might tell you to reduce the fertilizer you’re applying, which will save you money and keep extra nutrients out of the environment.”
PROTECT FRAGILE PLANTS.
Newly planted trees, roses, fussy ornamentals can suffer from winter burn, which is caused by dry soil and sunlight. Shield them with a double layer of burlap supported by three stakes and fastened with staples or twine. Burlap lets the plants breathe, unlike plastic. Established plants that have lived through several winters would like a new layer of mulch to retain moisture and warms the soil.
PLANT SPRING-BLOOMING BULBS.
For gorgeous daffodils in the early spring, plant their bulbs in fall or early winter. They need several months of cool temperatures to prompt them to sprout and bloom in the spring. Here in the South, pre-chill spring bulbs for six to eight weeks in the refrigerator and plant them in December or January.
PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS.
Despite cooler temperatures, landscaping needs some water; so if the weather is dry, remember to water occasionally. For a more uniform, greener spring lawn, aerate and seed now. As the mowing season slows down, lower your mower blade so the sun can reach grass crowns and warm the soil. Gather seeds from spent plants like salad greens and sunflowers, to save money in the spring.
The Not-Necessary List! Experts tell us that it is unnecessary to rake, deadhead, and pull all dead organic material from your yard. Leave fallen leaves on the grass and shred them with your mower so they can decompose and feed your lawn all winter. Leave dried, hollow plant stems so that pollinators, like native bees and wasps, can move in for the winter. Pollinators especially like stems of black-eyed Susans and gladioli. Just pick up fallen branches and bag and discard diseased or dead plants. Store garden cages and stakes, and you’re done!