Terry's Landscaping Tips For Fall: October
Day lilies, Hostas
As Fall makes its presence known a few topics to be concerned with come to mind.
For the lawn, de-thatching will help the intake of fertilizer by the root system. Either mechanically or by hand which when done correctly is no small undertaking, should produce a sizable amount of thatch that can be put in the compost pile for next year.
A healthy lawn will have less than .5 inches of thatch. Once done you shouldn't need to do it again for a couple of years. This assumes that clippings are collected during the growing season. For protection against summer sun, raise the mower to shade the roots and water before noon. Watering will be covered in the Spring articles.
The easiest way to determine the depth of thatch and roots, for that matter, is to dig a plug about 4 inches in diameter with a triangulated top that can be replaced after inspection.
Do this in all lawn panels to get a better picture of your lawn's health.
Aeration is useful to relieve compaction in soil and should produce at least one inch plugs, preferably this is done in two directions. Leave the plugs in the grass or remove them with a rake, your choice.
The most important thing besides cleaning the walks and drives is, and this cannot be stressed enough, if you have a sprinkler system, to mark the heads before mechanical de-thatching or aeration.
After de-thatching and aeration are complete, if over-seeding is needed, light top dressing and Fall fertilizing may be done. Commercial fertilizer combinations referred to as "weed and feed" will prevent the newly seeded lawn from germinating.
Leaves should be removed from lawns and beds as they accumulate and if collected with a mower or vac, being shredded will decompose faster.
As an additive to compost, leaves from different trees have different p.h. levels so in the Spring a soil test is a good idea.
A lot of conversation around fertilized grass clippings and their affect on compost is going on now and that is a discussion I will not be commenting on at this time.
Bulbs can be planted now and bone-meal should be added to the planting area, just follow instructions and you will be fine.
By now you have heard the "S" word, it will snow so you should be prepared for it. Checking shovels, taking snow blowers to get checked out, mixing (if needed) fresh gas and getting markers for your drive and lawn should be on the short list. Local garden centers and hardware stores are good sources for salt, calcium and lime.
If you have a contractor in mind for primary or back-up plowing, soon is better to schedule service and timing of plowing.