Experts Share Essential Tips for Fall Landscaping

The National Association of Landscape Professionals urges homeowners to complete critical care and maintenance of their yards and gardens during the fall season to enjoy their landscapes to the fullest

ARLINGTON, Va. (September 14, 2016) – With the arrival of autumn, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) is advising homeowners to take crucial care of their landscapes. Fall is often mistakenly overlooked when it comes to landscaping, despite the fact that the moderate temperatures, adequate rainfall and shorter days reduce plant stress and make it an ideal time for lawn, garden and tree tasks. It is extremely important to proactively care for your lawns, gardens and trees now, in order to preserve the health of your landscape, protect the environment and ecosystem through the winter, and ensure active growth and vitality come next spring.

“While many homeowners consider spring and summer to be the time for tackling landscaping projects, fall is actually a prime season for lawn care and landscaping,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “Being diligent in fall landscaping will allow your lawn and garden to withstand their long winter’s nap, and will certainly pay dividends next spring. In addition, thoughtful planning can allow your outdoor living spaces to be enjoyed throughout the cold-weather months.”

NALP encourages homeowners to consult a landscape or lawn care professional to determine the specific maintenance necessary within their region and for their particular property. Partnering with a professional will increase your chances of best results. The following are best practices and helpful tips for fall landscaping from NALP:

  • Remove dead leaves. Raking is a quintessential fall chore, but the benefits of removing dead leaves from your lawn go well beyond the aesthetic. If dead leaves remain on the ground through winter, they will prevent the lawn from getting the sunlight it needs to build food reserves for early spring growth, and they can form a dense, wet (or frozen) mat conducive to harmful plant diseases. Leaves that blow into streets can accumulate in gutters and storm sewers, releasing potentially harmful elements into the water. The best solution is to mulch leaves into the turf with your lawn mower, or to remove and recycle leaves from your property at a facility where they can be composted.
  • Inspect your trees. Many trees shed their leaves in fall, butkeep an eye out for dead leaves left at the top of trees, a possible indicator of environmental or root stress, or twisted and curled leaves that may be a sign that your tree has an infection. Damaged trees may need to be pruned or removed by a professional. Tree inspection is critical before the winter, when ice and heavy snow can cause weak tree limbs to break, creating a major safety and property hazard.
  • Take charge of lawn care.With summer’s extreme heat behind us, fall is the ideal time to seed grass; in fact, the weather conditions often make it preferential to spring seeding. Grass can also grow more freely with less competition from intrusive weed growth in the fall. Even if your property has a fully established lawn, you should plan to overseed annually or every two years to help fill in bare areas and thinning grass. In most parts of the country, fertilizing and aerating your lawn in the fall is also critical to ensure continued healthy growth.  
  • Get creative with fall gardening. There are options for bringing texture and color beyond pumpkins and chrysanthemums to your fall gardens, including asters, sedum, Chinese lanterns, goldenrod, black-eyed Susans, pansies and snapdragons. Place flowers in hallowed pumpkins for a seasonally styled container garden that makes an eye-catching complement to your jack-o’-lanterns. Fall is also an excellent time for planting shrubs, which can add further dimension and style to your landscape.    
  • Establish a safehaven for birds. Incorporating cold-season plants that blossom with berries, including holly trees and viburnums, will attract food-seeking, berry-loving birds to your gardens throughout the upcoming winter months.
  • Layer your garden beds with mulch. Mulch insulates the roots of your plants, keeping them protected from the harsh winter weather. If the mulch placed earlier in the season has worn away, or if you install new plants in the fall, be sure to add a fresh layer of mulch in your garden beds and around trees. Keep this layer to two to three inches; plants that grow in thick mulch run the risk of shallow root growth.
  • Turn up the heat with fire features. Firepits, chimineas, stone and brick fireplaces, and fire-powered outdoor appliances allow your outdoor living spaces to be enjoyed on chilly days and brisk nights. Choosing the right option depends on how you plan to use the space and the ways these features will best maximize the views from your deck or patio.
  • Shut off water lines before the temperatures drop. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst. Take care of this important safety step at the end of fall, once most plants are no longer actively growing, and before winter rushes in. Just don’t forget to give your garden beds a good, deep soak first, so they have adequate moisture to last through the winter.
  • Embrace “interiorscaping.”As you transition your home from summer to fall, bring the outdoors in. Houseplants remove toxins from the home, increase moisture levels and add humidity, which helps minimize dry skin and respiratory symptoms that can be especially prominent during the colder-weather months.
  • Plan ahead for next season’s landscape. Meeting with a landscape professional now will allow you ample time to create and build your dream landscape. Keep in mind the various steps involved in overhauling your landscape — finalizing your vision, determining your budget, obtaining permits and more —and next spring doesn’t seem so far away.

For more tips and advice for fall and year-round landscaping, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

About NALP

The National Association of Landscape Professionals represents an industry that employs nearly 1 million landscape, lawn care, irrigation and tree care professionals who create and maintain healthy green spaces for the benefit of society and the environment. For more information, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

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