As summer winds down and autumn gears up, it’s time to help your yard through the transition. Summer should have provided lush green grass, healthy green leaves on all the trees, flowers and bulbs, and maybe even a bounty of vegetables!
Now is the time to clean up your landscape to help it provide an even more beautiful environment for next year!
Fertilize in Fall
Autumn is the best time to feed your lawn. After the stress of summer heat, plan on aerating and fertilizing the grass to help strengthen roots and give back much-needed nutrients.
Use a fertilizer during October with a formula that provides nitrogen that feeds blades of grass, phosphorus for root growth, and potassium that helps cell function and has other essential elements. Aim for a mix of 13-25-12, where nitrogen and potassium are balanced.
Also, feed trees and perennial plants during fall. Slow release nitrogen should do the trick in providing food and helping promote root growth. Always read the fertilizer directions for the correct amounts to use and how to apply.
Mowing and Watering
Although growth in the garden is now slowing down, it’s still a good time to keep an eye on temperatures to determine if watering is still needed. Dry or gray patches in the grass mean your lawn is thirsty! Likewise, check out your plants and trees to see if the lower autumn sun is drying out the soil and unnecessarily stressing plants.
Also, if you’ve invested in new trees and plants during the summer season, be sure to water them during the fall months. Hydration helps plants deepen and strengthen roots for long-term health and growth.
For evergreens, be sure to protect them from wilting due to winter water loss by spraying them with Wilt-Pruf. Wilt-Pruf acts as a protective coating to hold in moisture and is a great way to reduce stress, shock or evergreen damage. Wilt-Pruf is a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic product that’s easy to use and sprays on to form a clear gloss film to help your evergreens survive the Cape Cod winter!
Make sure you give your grass one final cut. Plan on lowering your mower blades to cut grass a bit shorter than during summer, about 2-3 inches high. This height protects the grassroots, provides sunshine to stop fungus growth, and keeps the lawn looking good over the dormant winter season.
Don’t Leave the Leaves
There’s been a lot of garden growth during summer, which translates to a lot of debris during fall. Take the time to stay on top of raking leaves off the grass, out of ponds, and off patios, driveways, and paths. Remove dead plants, including any vegetable plants that have finished producing.
Consider topping up mulch in flowerbeds and around trees. For large beds, say that are against a fence, you can leave the leaves! Fallen leaves serve as both a mulch to retain moisture plus they provide nutrients to plants and trees as the leaves decompose.
Another area to clean out is the gutters. Don’t let gutters get clogged with dirt, debris, and leaves that can retain moisture, prevent run-off, and freeze causing damage. Take the time to clean out gutters – it’s a job you’ll be glad you did.
Prepare the Plants
Fall is a great time to think about your landscape and how well it worked for you over this past summer season. Were there gaps in the flower beds? Did you notice plants that were overgrown and crowded? Are you looking to achieve more color throughout the year?
Now is the time to split perennials! Look for plants that are large and healthy in your landscape. These plants can be carefully lifted from the garden bed and divided. Good candidates to split include iris, phlox, and daylilies. You’ll be pleasantly surprised next year when you have more perennials popping in the garden!
Irrigation Winterize Plan
Fall time in Cape Cod can sometimes offer warm, dry days and other years winter comes early! Keep an eye on the forecast and start thinking about winterizing your home irrigation system. Because of the area’s frost line, or depth that the groundwater freezes, Cape Cod irrigation systems need to properly prepared.
After shutting off the irrigation system and insulating the shut-off valve, above-ground pipes, backflow preventer, and any above-ground valves, plan on blowing out your sprinkler system. This blowout will ensure no water is left in the irrigation system that can freeze. Using an air compressor, never exceed 75 psi for PVC piping (50 psi for polyethylene pipes) – any higher pressure can cause air pockets in the valve. Keep volume between 100 to 185 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Exact CFM will depend on pipe size.
(Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming post all about winterizing your irrigation system!)
We know there’s a lot to do with fall yard clean-up. If you find yourself overwhelmed or simply without the time to take care of these landscape tasks, contact us! We offer landscape design, installation, and maintenance services to create the most beautiful outdoor environments!