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October To-Do List

October is a great time to wrap up your summer garden and start preparing for winter.

LAWNS:  A little extra care now will make for a healthier, thicker lawn next spring.

  • Fallen leaves and other debris should be raked up and removed.  This will reduce the incident of disease and allow your turf to breath.

  • If you haven’t already aerated, do it now.  It will loosen compacted soil and make it easier for air, water, and nutrients to reach the root zone.

  • Your lawn’s root system is in a growth spurt as it works to convert nutrients into food reserves for the winter.  Use a fertilizer labeled for Fall to promote deeper, stronger roots.

  • Reduce the height of your mowing gradually over several cuttings.  The final cut of the season should be about 1″ above the thatch layer.  This will help your lawn retain it’s color and resist disease over the winter.

TREES & SHRUBS:  Preparing your plants for winter not only keeps the landscape attractive but helps reduce insect and disease issues next spring.

  • Clean up leaves and other debris as they can harbor insect eggs and disease.

  • Fall is a great time to fertilize trees and large shrubs.  Once top growth slows down or stops, the plant is expanding it’s root system and storing nutrients to be used next Spring.

  • Pruning is essential to maintaining tree and shrub health.  Once the leaves have dropped it is much easier to see structurally weak, crossing, and interfering branches.

  • Lacebugs will continue to actively feed on Azalea through November.  They feed on the undersides of the leaves leaving small white dots on the top of the leaves and dark brown spots on the underside. Once this damage has occurred the leaf will never turn green again.  Treat with a systemic insecticide or a light horticultural oil.

  • Antidesiccants (Wilt-Pruf) are biodegradable latex materials that coat the foliage of evergreen plants and protect them from the drying effects of winter winds.

FLOWER & VEGETABLE BEDS:  Now is the time to put the beds to rest for the season.

  • Remove annual flowers and vegetables as well as leaves and other debris in beds.

  • Cut perennials back to the ground as they begin to die back naturally.  This is a great time to divide perennials that have become over-crowded.  Not only will you have additional plants, the division will rejuvenate the plants as well.

  • Till vegetable beds and add organic matter.  Sphagnum peat moss, finished compost, and well-aged manure are all good choices.  Spread 3″-4″ over the entire planting area and till into the top 6″-8″ of soil.  This will improve the soil structure for better vegetable and flower growth next spring.