As autumn draws to a close, you’ve probably noticed your lawn is finally slowing down from its peak growth during warmer weather. That means it’s time to shift some of your focus from the lawn to the other plants that help decorate and enhance the property, including trees, shrubs, and bushes.
While the following tips are equally beneficial for residential or commercial properties, we’re going to speak directly to commercial property owners in this article, because often times, the time crunch that affects us all is even more of a problem for you business owners and facility managers out there.
What should you be doing right now to protect trees and shrubs heading into the winter?
Now’s not the time to prune and shape trees, shrubs, and bushes that are slowly preparing themselves to survive the winter. Any trauma you cause now leaves them more vulnerable to damage in January and February.
Instead, now’s the time to protect these plants and help strengthen them before the coldest winter weather arrives.
Apply dormant oil
Dormant oil can protect plants from many common insects and diseases that tend to attack during cold weather when the plant is dormant and some of its natural defenses are weakened. That’s why it’s a perfect way to round out your lawn maintenance schedule late in the fall.
Just a thin coating of dormant oil, applied to the underside of the leaves of trees and shrubs, can effectively manage aphids, mites, and other soft-bodied insects that will otherwise target these plants during the late fall and early winter. It can also help protect the plants against powdery mildews and other diseases that can be spread by aphids.
Mulch with pine needles
The leaves that are falling now can potentially provide a warming layer of insulation and a good source of nutrients to help your lawn and other plants survive the winter. However, that’s not the best way to go about feeding and protecting plants heading into winter, and, in fact, it can be taken too far.
A thick blanket of dead leaves will probably do more harm than good. This can effectively smother the plant, making it harder for it to prepare for winter dormancy, which, in turn, will make it weaker and more vulnerable to pests and disease in the spring.
Pine needles, on the other hand, make excellent mulch. Because they are far more loose than leaves, they leave plenty of room for sunshine and oxygen to reach the plants and the soil even as they decay. Rake them up and pile them around the roots in your vegetable garden, flower garden, and shrub beds.
Consider applying a “winterizer”
Lawn care professionals highly recommend applying a treatment to the soil in the late fall that’s designed to protect vulnerable plant roots. The purpose of this “winterizer” treatment is to restore necessary carbohydrates to the soil and help grow and strengthen the root system in preparation for winter.
What should you do later in the winter to keep these plants healthy?
Assuming your trees, shrubs, and bushes have received the TLC they needed in the late fall to help them head into the winter in their best shape, there are a few other items to place on your to-do list for later in the winter.
Learn when and how to prune safely
In our climate, in and around Pensacola, the best time to prune most trees and shrubs is in the late winter when the plant has been dormant for a while, but not long before it will begin sprouting new growth in the early spring. This gives the plant the best opportunity to benefit from pruning while withstanding the shock it can cause.
If your property includes hedge shrubs, you will need to continue pruning them throughout the year, but their growth slows dramatically over the winter. The best practice is to only prune shrubs after every 6 to 8 inches of new growth on top, and occasionally shape the sides as well.
Special Note: If a flowering shrub on your property blooms prior to May 1st, it’s best to wait until after it has flowered to prune it. Some examples of late bloomers in our area include azaleas, camellias, forsythia, and spirea.
How can all this be possible for commercial property owners and busy professionals?
If you own commercial property or run a business, you might already be shaking your head. Here you thought the fact that the growing season was winding down meant a break in caring for your property’s lawn and landscape for a little while. But, it doesn’t work that way.
There is a lot of work involved in maintaining beautiful surroundings, and most business owners find it’s just not practical to try to handle it themselves or lose an employee to the job off and on throughout the year.
That’s where professional commercial lawn care services can bridge the gap and provide a time- and cost-effective solution for Pensacola’s business community. Lawn Master has been caring for the lawns of Pensacola’s commercial buildings for over 30 years now, and we’d love the opportunity to do the same for you.
Contact us today to learn more about the commercial lawn care services available for you!