By Hannah Van Sickle
Already dreading winter and the piles of snow that will inevitably accumulate in the coming months? Tackling a fall to-do list between now and the end of November–the kind professional landscapers employ to prepare their own outdoor living space for winter–is the smartest and easiest way to ensure your landscape is healthy and luscious come spring. The land care professionals at Nature Works Organic Land Care believe no home is complete without a real connection to the earth upon which it rests; consult them today to learn more best practices for knitting up your property before the snow flies.
- Lawn Care: Continue to mow your lawn as the weather gets colder–keeping it to a height of about 3” –until it stops growing. This practice not only promotes sun exposure, but also decreases the likelihood that your lawn will become packed down and invite snow mold.
- Test your soil: Establishing pH and nutrient availability are important first steps in caring for the foundation of your landscape. Depending on your unique site conditions, amending soil with compost top-dressing–aimed at building soil structure and feeding the soil biome– is one way to ensure the healthiest growing conditions for your home landscape.
- Reseed bare patches: Once the soil is tested–and any deficiencies corrected–commence with aerating and seeding patches that got beaten up by summer’s sun and increased foot traffic. A good rule of thumb is about three pounds of seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Rich Lassor and his crew tailor seed blends to produce dense, resilient grass communities that withstand stress in a process called eco-blend overseeding.
- Turn the mulch: Simply fluffing up the mulch on flower beds creates a fresh look and often eliminates the need for new mulch. If you do add new material, aim for a depth of 2-3”; more than that and you might be creating a haven for insects and plant disease, not to mention interrupting the soil’s ability to absorb water.
- Make more mulch: After turning the mulch you do have, make more. Use the lawnmower to transform the otherwise unsightly abundance of fall leaves into perfect organic mulch that your plants will love.
- Plan to plant: With the warm days and cool nights October is a great time to install plants large and small. Planting a tree in the fall allows roots to establish well. Nature Works specializes in tree installations large and small and can help you choose trees and location that are right for your home. In the garden, invest in fall bulbs for spring blooms. Furthermore, cool weather is the perfect time to divide perennials (think hostas, daisies, and phlox) or simply respace plants that have doubled or tripled in size. Don’t forget to clear out annuals to make space for next season.
- Examine your hardscapes Don’t forget to give walkways, masonry, earthworks, and architectural elements some TLC. These features should be inspected for cracks to help prevent water penetration damage that can result from freezing and thawing.
- Water the evergreens: Stave off winter dehydration by drenching your evergreens come fall. If it’s been a rainy fall, no additional drink is necessary. If fewer than four inches have fallen in the past month, experts suggest 1-2 thorough, hour-long waterings each week for up to three weeks.
- Pruning: Most trees and shrubs can withstand heavy pruning prior to winter. The benefit of this practice is twofold: first, it decreases the likelihood that trees and shrubs will suffer damage under the weight of winter’s snow and ice; second, pruning controls size and aesthetic of many plants. Unsure how to proceed? Consult the professionals at Nature Works to avoid the disappointing mistake of interrupting spring blooms on lilacs, hydrangeas and forsythia or causing unintended damage to your trees.
- Pack for winter: Once your fall clean-up is complete, corral your tools. Pruning shears, loppers and hand saws should be cleaned, sharpened and oiled before they are stored for winter. Sprinklers and hoses should be fully drained and brought indoors before temperatures freeze; irrigation lines should be blown out to avoid the danger of freezing and expanding that can result in damage.
Remember: Your landscape is an extension of your home–there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be as attractive to pollinators, birds, and animals as it is to you. The experts at Nature Works are committed to making sure it is safe and free from chemicals, naturally abundant, and in tune with nature. In addition, a living landscape offers interest year-round. Give yourself a gift today that will happily surprise you come spring…and keep on giving throughout the 2019 growing season.