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It feels like just yesterday that I was writing about waiting for the snow to clear and planning for the spring planting season. Fall is upon us and for most of us that means the colors will make one last miraculous change from vibrant and beautiful to dull and gray again. For those of us that live to garden this upcoming season can be one of the busiest of the year, and also one of the most productive, as the work we put in now will bear the fruits of our labor come next year. Here are some fall gardening tips to help you close out your current season and help you get started on the right foot for 2014.
• Water! Yes, I am that guy who has his sprinkler running up until the flakes begin to fall, and so should you. If you are not receiving at least one inch of precipitation every 10 days then you need to continue to water until the ground freezes. The winter season is actually quite dry and the more moisture you can give your landscape leading up to the big freeze the better off your plants and trees will be.
• Don’t put away the lawnmower just yet. Continue to mow on a regular basis until the grass stops growing and after that last time be sure to use a fall fertilizer to ensure a strong root system come spring. I also continue to mow until the leaves stop falling as old leaves can wreak havoc with your lawn if left in piles over the winter.
• Mulch. If you have been reading these for a while you probably know what I am going to say, but for those that are new…here you go! If you used rubber mulch like Rubberific Mulch, Nuplay or Re-Play you could skip this step and your plants and ground would already be insulated for winter. If you are still loading up the truck with wood much, it is time to make one more trip and this time mulching is not for looks, but for the survival of your plants. During the next few months the temperature will make some dramatic swings from day to night. If your landscaping is properly mulched it will help level out the soil temperature which will help keep plants, shrubs and trees alive when the freeze finally hits.
• Plant. It is actually an ideal time right now to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and spring bulbs – the weather is cooler and everything is usually on sale right now so it is a win-win situation.
• Clean. Chances are if you leave it on the ground now it will still be there when the snow melt,s so take some time and make sure branches are picked up, any broken limbs are removed and your beds are free from fallen leaves. Not only is it better for your plantings, but will also give you a nice clean slate to start with in the spring.
Here’s to hoping that spring comes early next year…