Most Frequently Asked Questions: Fall
particularly if rainfall has been inadequate. Your valuable landscape plants
will enter dormancy in the most stress-free state possible and will be
protected against the drying effects of winter winds. Signs of drought
stress include premature leaf drop, curled leaf margins, and browning of
leaves. Healthy trees and shrubs can be fertilized in the fall at the time
of leaf drop. The point of autumn feeding is to provide a head start for
next yearís growth, as nutrients will be more readily available in spring.
Fall feeding will not stimulate new growth if you wait for the shorter
days and cooler nights of autumn to fertilize, as your plants will harden
off. Since you will be fertilizing again in spring, make your fall fertilizer
application no more than half of the total yearly allotment. Lastly, apply
mulch around the base of your trees and shrubs, but be sure to keep the
area just around the trunks clear to prevent rot, insect infestation and
entrance of pathogens.
||What steps can I take now to prepare my trees
and shrubs for the rigors of winter?
in mind that fall clean up does not mean that your garden must be immaculate.
In fact, leaving some fallen leaves and twigs around and especially over
the planting beds can be beneficial. This type of cover prevents soil erosion
and moderates soil temperature. Add your autumn debris of dry leaves, spent
annuals and perennials, pruned twigs, weeds, etc. to your compost pile
so next spring and summer you can use the finished compost to enrich your
planting areas. Leaving small areas of weeds, branches and leaves can also
provide habitats for small wildlife. It is important to remember that pristine
landscapes are unnatural and can be devoid of beneficial birds, insects
||How can I best accomplish fall clean up?
and needle-leaved evergreens are best planted in the early fall, up until
around October 1 in our area, so that they can become more easily established
before winter sets in. Deciduous trees are best planted after leaf drop
around October 15 until December 1 before the ground freezes. Be sure planting
conditions are suitable; the ground must not be excessively wet or frozen.
Water well after planting and apply a mulch around the planting pit. It
is important to note that certain tree species are really best planted
in early spring; Prunus (ornamental cherries), Quercus (oaks),
Liquidambar (sweet gums), Crataegus (hawthorns), and Magnolia
||Is it safe to plant trees and shrubs in the
only very late-flowering shrubs such as: Abelia
Callicarpa (beautyberry), Hibiscus (rose-of-Sharon), and
Clethra (summersweet ) at this time. Prune rambler roses and remove
all dead or diseased canes. Of course, it is always advisable to prune
diseased and dead branches at any time of the year. Fall pruning is not
recommended for most deciduous trees, as it is best to wait until well
into the dormant season before pruning. In general on early and spring
flowering shrubs it is advisable to prune just after they have flowered
in late spring to early summer. On shrubs that bloom late in the season,
it is advisable to prune them down hard in the early spring, before growth
||What kind of pruning is best done in fall?
Yes, fall is an ideal time to rejuvenate a tired lawn. Cooler temperatures
and ample time available for recuperation before summerís heat and drought
all work in favor of a fall lawn renovation. Old lawns can benefit from
core aeration, since the soil may have become compacted over time, especially
if it has been treated with chemicals. To control thatch, an aerating tool
with metal tines is used to push into the soil by foot. This procedure
aerates the soil and enables earthworms and microorganisms to flourish
and to do their valuable work improving the soil. You can also overseed
your lawn with a suitable grass seed blend right over your existing turf.
Before spreading the seed, topdress the lawn with fresh soil, or scratch
the turf with a metal rake to roughen up the soil and create a receptive
bed for the new seed.
||Can I renovate my lawn in the fall?
in any houseplants that you have summered outdoors when the nightly temperatures
hover around 45 degrees. Before bringing them into their permanent indoor
winter location, be sure to inspect the leaves for any signs of insects
and/or diseases. Spray all surfaces of the leaves of most houseplants (except
succulent types) with plain water or water mixed with an insecticidal soap
solution to help rid them of any pests. Place them indoors where they can
receive adequate light; supplemental lighting may be necessary. As growth
slows down or even stops in some cases, do not fertilize again until early
spring (except for orchids, African violets and certain other winter-blooming
houseplants). Provide humidity by placing plants on a saucer and then on
a tray of pebbles that are kept constantly moist. Water less frequently,
but water deeply at each watering. Keep leaves free of dust by misting
them and wiping them with a soft, moistened cloth. Check frequently for
insects, remove them manually and apply insecticidal soap as needed. Every
few months take the entire plant, cover the base and wash it down with
a warm shower in the bathtub.
||How can I take care of my houseplants during the
cooler weather and lower light conditions of autumn?
addition to the wonderful late-flowering perennials such as chrysanthemums
or asters, certain trees and shrubs really offer intense fall color. For
brilliant reds, red-oranges and purples choose: maples, sweetgums and dogwoods.
For clear yellows choose: birches, ginkgoes, and clethra.
||I would like to incorporate some plants
with fall interest in my garden. What do you recommend?
You might also want to choose plants with a persistent berry display
including: winterberry hollies, bayberries, and many species of viburnum.
Other great choices for fall interest include ornamental grasses such
as: Japanese blood grass, miscananthus, and red switchgrass.
herbs, such as parsley, rosemary and chives can be potted up to grow indoors
on a sunny windowsill for a few months, but eventually, they will loose
vigor. Other ways to enjoy your herbs past the growing season would be
to dry them, or to preserve them in oil or vinegar. Herbs can also be kept
frozen until ready for use later on in the year.
||How can I salvage the herbs from my herb garden
to grow indoors?