Cold weather is right around the corner—and if you want your landscape to be ready for spring, now’s the time to start preparing. Taking a few easy steps now will help ensure you have a healthy landscape all year, and will protect your landscape from the elements this winter.
You might think spring and summer are the most important seasons for landscape maintenance, but paying attention to the health of your plants during the fall is just as critical. That’s because the plants in your landscape (those that aren’t annuals) are storing up nutrients and water to prepare them for the cold season—so you should give them every advantage to get ready.
Here are some of the best things you can do to protect your landscape this winter:
Don’t stop mowing. Many people stop cutting their grass too early. As long as the ground hasn’t frozen, your grass is still growing, and you should plan on cutting it every 2-3 weeks. Keeping grass short helps eliminate fungus growth once warmer weather returns, and also keeps leaves and debris from piling up.
Aerate your soil. Fall is the perfect time to aerate your soil because it helps your grass breathe at a time when they’re getting less nutrients than during the growing season. You probably don’t need to aerate every year, but should consider it if your soil is compacted (from heavy foot traffic), or especially dry. It’s best to aerate your soil in the early or middle part of the fall, as your grass needs time to recover before the weather gets too cold.
Remove dead growth. Get rid of any plant debris that’s dead or dying before winter starts. This applies to your beds and to tree and shrub growth. Make sure you’re only trimming growth that is no longer vital—fall is not the time to encourage new plant growth with pruning.
Mulch or rake leaves. If you have a mulching lawnmower, you might be able to get away with mulching leaves instead of raking. The effectiveness of this approach depends on mowing frequency and how many trees you have. But whether you mow or rake, it’s important to remove leaves every couple of weeks to keep plants and grass from getting moldy, and to help them breathe.
Fertilize. It’s true that grass doesn’t grow as quickly above ground during the fall—but below the soil, roots are still growing at a steady pace. These roots need nutrients to prepare them for dormant winter months, and fertilizing during the fall is the best way to help them flourish once the weather gets warmer. For best results, try to fertilize a week or two before the ground freezes.
Putting in a little effort now to protect your landscape this winter will go a long way toward a healthy, lush landscape this spring. Just make sure you’re paying attention to all the elements of your landscape—your grass, flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, trees, and shrubs—to keep your landscape gorgeous all year long. And keep in mind that you can even add new plants to your landscape during the fall when done correctly.
If you have any questions about preparing your landscape for winter, or need help with landscape maintenance, contact us today.