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  • Writer's pictureThomas Greiman

How to prepare your garden and landscape for Fall

Fall is nearly here, and the official start of Autumn is September 22 which means there isn’t much time left. For residents of Denver and Colorado, it is well understood that the cooler weather changes nearly overnight. Sudden drops in temperatures, increase in precipitation, and gustier winds are a shock to landscapes and gardens everywhere. But since there is still time, homeowners can still look into how to prepare their landscape for Fall.

Landscape Health Check

The first step to any successful landscape and garden is to survey its health. Look all over and take notes about the quality and quantity of your plants. For your lawn, see if there are any dead spots or browning spots. Alternatively, you can make a note of areas that seem to be overgrown or riddled with weeds. The same goes for your flowers, shrubs, and trees. If there are any that are lacking in the quality of health, take note to have them removed or replaced. For trees, it's very important to notice if any branches reach too close to the house or overhead electrical lines. Inspect your sprinkler system and irrigation system as well, noting any broken sprinkler heads or leaking. Doing all of this will help cultivate a list of to-dos before the cold sweeps making work more difficult.

Add mulch to your garden and landscape

From your garden and landscape inspection, you might have noticed areas that are barren. Adding mulch or amending the soil will help plants that are already established by protecting their roots. This can also help them retain moisture and shade away from direct sunlight. Another option instead of a soil amendment is by planting more flowers or shrubs. There is a power in numbers for plants to help each other get through the harsher months.

Check your garden and landscape for diseases

A couple of wilted leaves here or there will not be a problem for your garden and landscape. However, if your trees and shrubs are suffering from extensive rotting or other afflictions that can spread to others. Fall is a great time to remove these diseased plants from your garden and landscape. This is because it is easier to identify them after their prime season and also ensures they will not be around the next time the plants come back from dormancy over the winter.

Replace your annuals

Replacing your garden and landscape annuals is a timely chore. Make sure to dig up any bulb plants that are for Summer only and then replace them with cool-weather flowers. This is also a great opportunity to add flower pots and garden beds with new cool-weather flowers to bloom and thrive in the cooler months to come.

Hold off on pruning

Fall isn't the ideal time to prune. Pruning stimulates new growth that may not be able to survive the winter, especially in colder zones. Don't even cut off any dead wood.

Prepare your garden and landscape for Fall

You'll want to weed, deadhead faded blooms, divide overgrown plants, dig up non-hardy bulbs for winter storage, remove spent annuals, amend the soil and add needed mulch. Replace ties with jute twine. Natural fibers make the best ties because they're more flexible. They'll break down over time, but at that point, it will be time to retire the plants anyway. Amend soil where there are bare spots or where you've removed annuals. Add compost and peat moss to replace nutrients lost during summer growth and to better prepare the soils for spring planting. Turn the amendments into the soil with a garden fork to distribute them evenly. Brush off any mulch that's sitting on branches of shrubs because it can cause leaves and needles to yellow.

Prepare your lawn for Fall

Within the first six weeks, it will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye; it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive.

It's also the right time to fertilize turfgrasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turfgrasses can store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

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