As the hot summer fades and your lawn starts slowing its rapid growth in preparation for the dormant winter months, you might just find yourself with some extra time on your hands.
There are several things you can do during the cooler fall months to help your lawn and landscaping stay healthier, more vibrant, and better prepared to face the winter before coming back stronger than ever in the spring.
Here are three easy fall lawn care projects you can try today:
Planting trees and shrubs
Although we tend to think about early spring as the planting season for trees and shrubs, the fall is actually a great time to do it because the period of upcoming dormancy allows for stronger root growth and establishment in preparation for a strong growing season in the following spring.
To make a success of fall planting, it needs to be done properly:
- Choose a location with adequate space for the tree or shrub chosen
- Prepare the soil (loosening soil for several feet around each plant)
- Compost liberally
- Prepare the rootball (if transplanting a purchased plant)
- Mulch liberally (around but not on top of the rootball)
- Water the area appropriately (1-2 inches per day, depending on soil drainage, until established.)
It's also important to choose the right tree or shrub for your unique soil and light conditions. And, if you're planting a young tree, be sure to wrap the trunk with a commercially available wrap until the bark is mature.
Plant for fall color
Although we can't expect New England-style autumn color explosions here on the Florida panhandle, there are still many different plants you can introduce into your garden or yard to offer a splash of fall color. Here are a few to consider:
- Coleus – splashes of deep red, bright yellow and orange
- Caladiums – pink and purple outlined in green
- Stromanthe (sanguinea) – deep red spikes among shiny green
- Cape Leadwort – all shades of blue from sky to indigo
- Trumpet Honeysuckle – fuchsia to bright red and maroon
- Cassia – bright yellow and yellow-green
- Blue Butterfly – blue to purple in unique butterfly-shaped blooms
- Pansy – all across the spectrum with varieties in nearly every color
- Cabbage – gorgeous pink to purple set against deep forest green, and delicious too!
- Kale – similar in coloring to cabbage
Apply dormant oil
Dormant oil is a petroleum or plant oil-based product that serves to protect plants from certain insects and/or diseases during the dormant winter months when some of the plant's natural defenses may be less effective.
By applying a thin coating of dormant oil to woody ornamentals and trees, you can kill scale, aphids, mites, and other soft-bodies insects that can do a lot of damage during the late fall and early winter. It can also cut down on powdery mildews and other diseases spread by aphids.
A word of caution: horticultural oils like dormant oil are indiscriminate, meaning they will kill beneficial insects along with pests. Over-application can also damage plants due to the excess weight placed on leaves and branches that are already being forced to endure tough winter conditions, so it’s best to leave application to your lawn maintenance company.
If you have any questions or need advice, call a professional at Pensacola lawn care company Lawn Master and we'll be happy to help.