Yard plans: addressing problems in the fall

Fall is a great time to address problems in the yard. A few questions I like to ask are: Which plants struggled the most in your yard? Did a plant outgrow its place? How about growing at all?

Poor soil is one of many reasons plants struggle. When it rains, many nutrients get washed away. With the rain, water sits around the roots and can cause root problems.

Plants need to breathe in through the roots just as much as in through their leaves. With the amount of rain I noticed that in some areas, water pooled on the surface and was slow to drain.

To fix that, add french drains. Another option is putting in raised beds or plants that don’t mind wet feet. The best time to plant is anytime in the fall into winter. When dry is in the forecast, get out and work on fixing the problems.

Now, let’s move on what to do about your lawn.

We are winding down with the season. When the surface is dry enough, give your lawn a nice cut. Mow it short. I like to spread fine fish compost on the surface. If your lawn is full of moss, give it a light thatch before spreading the compost. Hold off aerating your lawn until spring.

Start winterizing your mower. Run the machine out of gasoline and do some maintenance. I take my machines to get serviced from a shop that sells lawn equipment and performs maintenance.

With winter around the corner, protecting your plants is very important. Whether it is your trees and shrubs, your lawn or your potted plants a few simple steps will help guide you in the right directions. I like to use leaves as mulch in my garden beds. First, go through the beds cutting back and tidying up. If you have hostas and daylilies or anything else that slimes cut them back. Slugs like to gravitate to these plants. Mulching with leaves is a great way to protect your plants from frost and cut back on the chore of weeding. Small leaves can be scattered on the surface to the depth of a couple inches. If you have bigger leaves run a mower over them to chop it up and then put them in the beds.

For major lawn rejuvenating, let’s wait until spring. Make sure you keep your lawn free from leaves. They should be composted or put into your flower beds.

Any potted plants should be protected from frost. If you can, move the pots close to the house or in a protected area. Any annuals should be discarded and the soil taken out. I like to just compost the old soil and in spring, after the pot’s been cleaned out, fresh soil should be used.

And finally, for your trees and shrubs, hold off on doing major pruning. If frost is in the forecast protecting the roots is important. That’s why I like to use mulch.

You can create protective barriers for the plant. Don’t just throw tarps over your beds and plants. Use some plant stakes on the outer parts and drape the sheet or other protector on the stakes.

The premise is to keep frost from invading the leaves and tissue of the plant. In most cases the plant will taks care of itself.

While the year is winding down and the garden season will soon come to an end, the weather will not be so great so great for working outside. Grab some garden books and magazines, or surf the web and get some ideas for your yard.

In my early columns, I mentioned taking notes on how your yard is affected by the sun, shade, poor drainage, or good drainage.

Those notes are a good tool to have while coming up with a yard design plan for the coming year.


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