The beginning of fall marks the end of the warm summer weather. With this seasonal transition, you can expect cooler temperatures and shorter days. As a result, it’s important for homeowners to give their landscape a little TLC during this time of year. By following these 10 tips, you’ll create a cleaner and more attractive landscape that enhances your home’s curb appeal.
Some homeowners assume that they can stop mowing their lawn during the fall. Although grass grows slower during this time of year than summer, you’ll still need to mow it. Mowing your lawn encourages a healthy, manicured landscape while keeping weeds and other unwanted, invasive plants in check.
You should raise your mower blade so that it doesn’t stress your lawn. Depending on the particular grass species, a blade height of about 2 inches might be ideal for the summer. During the fall, however, 3 inches will give your lawn a little extra breathing room while minimizing stress.
There’s no better time than the start of fall to test your soil’s pH level. If it’s too acidic or alkaline, grass, flowers and trees may struggle to grow. Using a disposable or reusable testing kit — available at most home improvement stores and gardening centers — you can measure the pH level of your soil. Healthy soil should have a pH reading of around 5.5 and 7.0.
Depending on the number and variety of trees in your landscape, you may discover an excessive amount of leaves blanketing your lawn. Turning a blind eye to these leaves won’t make the problem go away. Rather, they’ll prevent your grass from receiving the sunlight and nutrients it needs to survive during this seasonal transition. To promote a healthy lawn during the fall, either rake or vacuum the leaves.
You’ll need to winterize the flowers in your landscape so that they aren’t killed off by the cold fall weather. This involves pruning shoots and stems as well as adding mulch. The latter is particularly important because mulch acts as insulation. When added around the base of a flower, mulch traps in heat, thereby keeping the flower warm during this otherwise cool time of year. Of course, mulch also contains valuable nutrients that further promote healthy flower growth and development. So, add an extra layer of mulch in your flowerbeds to winterize and protect them from the cold weather.
Spring isn’t the only time of year when you should fertilizer your lawn. It’s also a good idea to fertilize it during the fall. A high-NPK fertilizer — either synthetic or organic — will provide your grass with the right combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, as well as other “micro” nutrients, that it needs to grow and stay healthy. Fertilizer also encourages lawn grasses to rise earlier in the spring, which is another reason to apply it during the fall.
Even healthy trees will suffer from dead branches. Rather than leaving dead branches on a tree, though, you should consider removing them. Assuming the tree is relatively low, you should be able to trim them using a ladder and gardening shears. Remove all dead, dying, diseased or injured branches from trees in your landscape.
If your landscape includes perennials, trim these flowers during the fall to discourage pests. It’s not uncommon for plant-eating slugs to feast on perennials. And large perennials are more likely to experience pest infestations than smaller, more manicured perennials. You can encourage healthy growth for your perennials while minimizing the risk of pests by trimming them.
Your lawn still needs water during the fall — just not as much as it does during the spring and summer when the temperatures are warm. Give your lawn at least one more watering of at least 1 inches during the fall. The water will soak into the soil, providing your grass, trees and plants with valuable moisture. Just use caution not to overwater your lawn, as the cool temperatures reduces water evaporation and can subsequently lead to soggy soil.
If you have container plants on your patio, outdoor living space, garden or elsewhere, bring them indoors before the winter season arrives. Because they typically container smaller, more confined root systems, container plants are susceptible to injury from the cold fall weather. Thankfully, you can protect your container plants from shock and injury by bringing them indoors. If you have a climate-controlled basement, consider bringing them here for the fall and winter months. Once spring arrives next year, you can take your container plants back outside to further enhance your home’s landscape.
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