Fall Lawn Fertilization

Fall is the best time of year to fertilize your lawn. The natural underground growth pattern of grass is to develop a lot of roots, tillers and rhizomes this time of year. By fertilizing now, you enhance this natural growth and develop a thicker, more weed resistant lawn. It will also turn the grass a darker green color, usually within two days.

Special fall or winterizer lawn fertilizer blends are available which contain extra potassium. Potassium makes the grass blades stiffer and more resistant to cold. However, there is no reason why you can’t apply any lawn fertilizer now. I like to use a fertilizer which has at least part of nitrogen in a slow release coated or encapsulated form. Also check the list of ingredients to make sure iron is included

You can apply lawn fertilizer clear up until late November. If you apply now it will keep your lawn green all winter. And it does this without causing growth in length past October so you have to mow later in the season.

Some of the fertilizer applied in the fall is converted to amino acids and is stored in the roots and crowns of the grass. This keeps the grass green all winter.

This is also a very effective time to kill lawn weeds. So if you have quite a few broad leaf weeds in your lawn, use a weed and feed combination. If you have only a few weeds, you can use a liquid lawn weed killer.

Weed Control in Flowers and Vegetables

Now is also a good time to spray weeds in your vegetable or flower plantings, after everything is harvested. Especially if you have perennial weeds like bind weed, quack grass or Canada thistle. Use Roundup or one of the similar glyphosate weed killers. They are most effective this time of year in being translocated to kill the underground portion of perennial weeds.

Prevent Moss Buildup

As the wet weather returns, moss starts growing again in shaded and other areas which stay constantly moist on top of the soil. Applying “Moss Out” or other moss killing products now, will reduce or prevent this buildup. All the products which are for use around plants contain an iron compound such as iron sulfate. They not only kill moss, but also provide an important nutrient which stimulates chlorophyll production in plants and produces a dark green color. If you have not applied fertilizer this fall, you can apply a combination fertilizer/moss control product. Moss control products for concrete, wood and other surfaces contain zinc instead of iron. Iron stains concrete a rust color, so do not apply plant moss control products to concrete. Let us know if you would like us to apply one of these products for you.

Fall Shrub Pruning

Do you have shrubs which are blocking your views or have grown over walkways? Except for spring flowering shrubs like rhododendrons and azaleas, this is an excellent time to prune.

To keep the natural shape and thickness of shrubs, prune one branch at a time. Select one of the longest branches and reach down inside other branches. Cut it a little shorter than the height you would like the shrub to be after pruning. Select another long branch and do the same with it. Pruning shorter than adjacent branches hides stubs inside other growth.

Upper side branches should be shortened more than lower ones so you retain the natural tapered shape. If lower side branches are shortened too much, they become shaded by upper ones and eventually lose their leaves.

Learn to Prune Your Own Plants

If you are concerned about your ability to prune your own plants give me a call. I can teach almost anyone the basic fundamentals of pruning in an hour in your own yard. We can also prune together so the job gets done at a lower cost because of your participation.

Use Lawnmower to Condense Leaves

A rotary lawn mower is an effective way to chop leaves into small pieces. If you let them fall onto the lawn, the smaller pieces will fall between the blades. You may have to run the mower over them more than once.

Leaf fragments will not harm the grass if the quantity is not too large. They will be gradually broken down by worms and micro-organisms and the resulting humus will improve the soil.

You can also use the grass catcher to pick up most of the leaf fragments along with grass clippings and use them to improve soil in other areas of the landscape. There is typically about a 3 to 1 ratio between leaves raked up and mowed leaves. You will have about 1 bag of chopped leaves for every 3 bags of whole leaves. Leaves can be chopped up with a mower no matter where they fall. You may have to rake them out from behind and between shrubs and flowers.

I also run a lawn mower over dead annual flowers and vegetables after frost kills them or they are through being harvested. The finer you chop them, the more quickly they will break down into humus. They can be immediately incorporated with the leaves into the vegetable garden and flower beds. It is all right to leave them on top of the ground until spring, but fall tilling or spading is better.

Plant Bulbs in Containers

I plant a lot of bulbs in tubs with summer flowering annuals. Bulbs can be inserted between plants while they are still growing. Or, you can wait until summer annuals have been damaged by the cold and remove them first. In the spring, you can plant flowers between bulb leaves after they finish flowering. Once planted, the bulbs keep blooming year after year without replanting.

Bulbs can also be planted in pots that can be brought into the house for winter bloom. Most fall bulbs need a special cold treatment. Place planted pots in an unused summer overflow refrigerator for 12 weeks after planting. Then bring them inside for mid-winter bloom. Pots can also be placed outside, but it takes longer for them to develop roots for later bloom. In most cases they are ready to be brought inside by February if planted in pots by early November.