Plan Now for a Beautiful Spring!
With the cooler temperatures starting to settle in, spring seems to be so far away! It’s hard to imagine planning past the upcoming winter, but fall is the best time of year to prime your home and yard for a beautiful spring. To proactively prepare for another growing season, I’d like to address some common questions:
When can I plant colorful spring bulbs? Anytime in October or November until the soil starts to freeze up. Just plant them a few inches below the surface in any area of soil and they will overwinter; then, in early spring you can enjoy that fresh color! Most bulbs will continue to come back year after year, so getting that project started now will last many years.
What is a perennial and can I plant them in the fall? A perennial is a plant that lives multiple years, whose foliage dies back in the fall and returns in the spring from its rootstock. And yes, fall is a great time to plant perennials–just plant them in October or before the ground freezes up. Keep them watered until winter sets in. You will get a strong early green rush with fresh stems in the spring that will last all next season.
Can I seed my yard? Fall is the best time to seed your yard; however, it should be done with maximum results between mid to late August. This gives the seeds enough time to germinate and build strength before going dormant when the soil temperature starts to drop below 50 degrees. Seeding in October is not advised as you can get a high winter kill.
When should I fertilize my yard? Fall is the best time of year to fertilize your yard since your grass is growing down toward its roots and will take in the fertilizer. Put an application down at the end of October to get a maximum early spring green rush. If your yard is non-irrigated, it's best to apply fertilizer twice a year, in the middle of August and the end of October. Each application will last about 8-10 weeks of the growing season, with your late October lasting into early June. It's not advisable to fertilize non-irrigated yards in the summer months as your turf is going dormant from the heat. Carefully read any instructions if applying any homeowner fertilizer for application and safety rates.
And what about dandelions?! Dandelions are perennials and if you're not a fan of the spring rush of the signature dandelion yellow, then fall is your time to take action. The plants are transferring sugars down toward their roots for winter storage. Applying a herbicide after frost gives you a strong chance of getting them killed. Applying herbicide in the spring does not work as well because the plant is growing up and the root often sprouts again. Carefully read any instructions if applying any homeowner herbicides for application and safety rates.
Should I aerate my yard every year? No, this is not necessary if you have a good population of earthworms who will supply natural aeration to your yard. If you have areas of heavy foot traffic, machine or construction work, or poor soil that has a lot of clay, aerating can help your turf breathe a little better and allow water to soak in more easily.
Should I mow my yard lower in the fall? No, it’s not necessary to lower the height of your mower during the last few weeks of the growing season. It is a good idea to remove leaves and other vegetation that may have blown in, as it can cause excessive thatch build up which can damage the grass.
Winter will be here sooner than we think, but getting some final yard and garden projects completed in the fall will make spring so much more beautiful!