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It's Fall... And your landscape needs some TLC

It seems only a few days since we were in the middle of Summer. And yet here I am to talk about getting your land ready for the onset of winter. We might want to hang on as long as possible to the memory of those long, lazy days, but it's time to think about the seasonal change and what we need to do about it.

Far from being a depressing time of year, the Autumn is a wonderful opportunity for landscapers and gardeners to get outside as the days become crisper and the Fall colors become breath-takingly rich.

For one thing, the Fall is the time for planting in preparation for next Spring. By now you should be finishing up the planting of any evergreen trees you are adding to your landscape. Evergreens, depending on your zone, should be planted between late August and the middle of October. This allows their young roots to grow in their new environment before the onset of winter.

Unlike evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs drop their leaves in winter. You can continue to plant deciduous trees and shrubs from mid October, again depending on your zone. If you're unsure of your zone, ask at your garden center or simply drop me an e-mail.

Watering might be something that we think of as only being important during those parched summer days, but trees, particularly evergreens, need water to survive year round. However, this doesn't mean you need to be watering them twelve months of the year. Evergreens lose water through a process called "transpiration" and if the ground freezes, new moisture cannot easily be pulled from the soil to replace that lost by the leaves. This situation can be aggravated when evergreens are exposed to sun and wind during winter months. What can you do?

If there is sufficient rain this Fall, you might not need to do anything. But monitor the moisture in the soil around your evergreens and if necessary give them a thorough watering about once a week this month. If the weather forecast calls for freezing night temperatures, water early in the day so the water can soak in before nightfall. By the way, there are some anti-desiccant sprays on the market that you can apply in the Fall that are effective in preventing some of the drying effect.

If you're worried about your deciduous trees suffering from cold-related problems such as bark-splitting, consider using some kind of tree-wrap. It's not usually necessary to apply tree wrap before the beginning of November and it should be removed by next April. If you need more information about using tree wraps, visit my website or drop me an e-mail and I'll personally answer your specific questions.

Depending on the supplier's instructions you might need to be mulching any new Fall plantings that you're adding this year. Winter mulch serves a different purpose to the mulch you spread around during the summer. Your winter mulch will prevent plants suffering from extreme variations in temperature, which can be fatal, particularly to new plants. A word of caution: Don't apply winter mulch too early in the season as that tends to provide a breeding environment for plant disease. Wait until night temperatures are frequently falling below freezing.

This is a good time to think about fertilizing your lawn. It should have regained some or all of it's "green" following the summer brown-out. Fertilizing now will help your lawn survive the winter and return in the Spring, bright and strong. If you have fescue or bluegrass, look for a fertilizer with a number combination such as 25-5-5 for application at this time of the year.

Here are three useful websites with additional information: http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Garden/longwint.htm



I'll be revisiting some Fall-related topics in future columns. Meanwhile... wouldn't today be a GREAT day to be outdoors?!

The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to [email protected] or mail to: Steve Jones, "The Plant Man", P.O. Box 686, McMinnville, TN 37111. For resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org often.

QUESTION: "I planted a weeping cherry a few months ago and have kept it watered and fertilized with Miracle Gro. A couple weeks ago, I noticed it weeping sap at the base of the trunk. Since then, the small points of sap weeping have increased to about five or six. The leaves are also showing some yellowing and a few are curling. Not quite sure what to make of this. Insect damage? I would appreciate your advice." - Rex in Kentuckiana

ANSWER: I believe what you might be experiencing some type of borer problem. Bores attack at the base of a tree and begin to weaken it. You may want to get Durispan to spray around the trunk of your tree. Many times by doing this at an early stage you can get rid of the problem.

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