It may surprise you to learn that fall is a great time to focus on landscaping. Cooling temperatures diminish aboveground growth, allowing plants to focus energy on root development. Milder weather also provides a perfect opportunity to get outside and prepare your outdoor living areas for next spring. Here are some fundamental landscaping tips to help you prepare for the changing seasons.
Aerate your lawn. If you notice rain pooling on the grass, you should aerate compressed soil to make it easier for moisture and nutrients to reach the roots. A simple garden fork may be good enough for a very small yard. For larger yards, it’s better to use a heavy-duty walk-behind aerator that will lift out 2½-to 3-inch-deep plugs that will naturally break down by spring.
Feed your grass. Savvy landscapers know that it’s a good idea to cut back on fertilizer in late summer to prevent perennials from needlessly wasting energy on leaf production. That said, grass roots will continue to grow until the soil gets down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to give them a nice dose of food before temperatures drop too low. Apply a high-phosphorus mix to your entire lawn in the early autumn to promote root growth, so your turf will turn green earlier in spring.
Dry out your drip systems. Standing water will freeze, expand and crack drip-irrigation tubing. If you aren’t sure how to dry out your irrigation system, contact a professional to do it for you. For simple systems, you can shut off your water and detach the tap-joint adapter. Then, using a low-pressure, high-volume setting on a compressor, gently insert an air hose where the system attaches to the tap. Again, if this sounds too complicated, invite a professional out to do it for you. Whatever you do, don’t forget to winterize your irrigation system, or you could end up having to uproot the entire system in the spring.
Add mulch to young plants. It’s a good idea to layer new beds with wood chips, weed-free straw or mulch before the ground freezes. Be sure to till any decomposed organic layers of mulch into the existing soil. Then, apply a brand new 2- to 4-inch layer of fresh mulch to control water runoff and keep new plantings warm during the winter.
Trim back perennials. If you want healthier-looking spring beds, pull out old, dying annuals and trim tired-looking foliage down to the ground. This will focus energy on the roots and eliminate food for slugs and snails. It’s also generally best to divide crowded tuberous plants every couple of years to provide room for more flowers.
Cut back tree branches. Thin, brittle branches can break in the wind or snap under the weight of snow. This can endanger your home and litter your yard with debris. You can protect your property and trees by cutting away loose, cracked and diseased limbs. Just be sure to make your cuts near (not flush with) the tree’s trunk to promote better healing.
Plan ahead. Instead of throwing away all of those stray leaves you’ve raked up, consider adding them to a compost pile. Compost piles generally take up very little space and provide great fuel for your soil and plants in the spring. In addition to ground leaves, you can add vegetable trimmings, grass clippings, loose flower petals and small branches. All of this contains essential nutrients that will give your vegetation a nice head start when the weather warms in the spring.
Invest in some upgrades. To make sure your outdoor living space is ready for the spring, schedule your landscaping upgrades now. This way you can hit the ground running when the weather warms. The last thing you want is to have to wait weeks to enjoy your outdoor areas. If you schedule your upgrades and improvements now, you can be sure they will be completed in time for next spring.
At RMPS Landscaping in Castle Rock, we provide a diverse array of outdoor landscaping services, from hardscaping and outdoor lighting to stonework, water features, sod, plants, trees and whole-scale landscape renovation. Visit our featured projects resource for inspiration, and contact us when you’re ready to get started. We can help create your ideal outdoor space and bring your boldest vision to life.