Whether you have an HOA, commercial property, or private residence, attaining a beautiful spring landscape requires some foresight and preparation in the fall. Perennial plants, trees, and grass as well as future spring plantings won’t flourish without taking steps to refresh and revitalize your landscape before the winter months. Now is the time to do the following tasks to prep for spring:
Walk the Property
Walk the entire property and inspect how each area has progressed during the past season. Note plants and trees that look diseased, overgrown or dead so that they can be trimmed or removed. Update the landscape plan according to where plants are flourishing and where they are not so you can find the correct type of plant for that area.
Remove Dead Branches and Plants
Large, dead branches present a hazard to buildings and other landscape elements during high winds and storms. Trim all diseased and dead tree branches close to the trunk. Trees add considerable value to your property so don’t scrimp on the proper maintenance! Remove diseased, dying, or dead plants. Determine the reason for the dead plants and plan accordingly by fixing irrigation issues or changing to a more suitable type of plant.
Clean Beds and Planters
Take time to remove dead or dying summer annuals from beds and planters. Plants left throughout fall and winter will decompose, attracting slugs and possibly causing disease that can affect your spring plantings. Add compost to prepare for new plantings.
Plant Bulbs, Perennials and Seasonal Flowers
Fall is an optimal time to plant just about anything because the soil is still warm and roots have time to develop before winter. Make sure to plant what is appropriate for your zone. Plant tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs that will bloom in the spring, making sure to mark the area so that they are not disrupted during spring planting. Plant seasonal flowers like Pansies, Dianthus, Cabbage, Winter Camellia, Kale, and Violas for a fresh burst of fall color that will last through winter. Its also the perfect time to plant turf grass, perennials, trees, and shrubs.
Trim Perennial Foliage
Pruning is both a regular part of landscape maintenance and a way to remedy problems in your plants. Trimming perennials will revitalize their roots for next season and also help determine the plant’s form as it grows. Depending on when the plant produces flowers, it may be better to prune in winter or spring. Knowing which plants to prune and when is important to a successful outcome. In general, fall pruning is best done after the plant has entered dormancy and stopped growing. Some plants can just be shaped and trimmed of overgrowth while others do better if they are cut back to the ground. An experienced commercial landscaper will know the best maintenance plan for your particular business or HOA landscape.
Compost and Mulch
Carefully till compost and old mulch into the soil around remaining plants to provide nutrients for the fall and winter. Put a 2-4 inch layer of fresh mulch around all plants to give them warmth and protection during cold weather.
Mow, Fertilize, Aerate
Grass should be mowed down to 1¼ inches for the last cut of the season. Since grass receives most of its nutrients from the upper parts of its blade, cutting the grass any shorter may inhibit future growth. Grass roots keep growing until the temperature reaches 40 degrees, making fall a good time to apply fertilizer to encourage root growth. Aerating the entire lawn area is a good practice that pulls out plugs of compressed soil to allow water and nutrients to reach the roots. Its also an optimal time to lay sod or spread grass seed.
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