The summer has come and gone, leaving many of us questioning why we live in a state with four distinct seasons. With fall, comes colder weather, pumpkin spice everything, and the annual fall foliage production that some of our trees put on for us. While we are checking out the local fall activities and trying to figure out when to turn the time back (the answer is at the bottom), let’s not forget about our personal favorite thing to do – fall landscaping needs!
What if we told you, however, that fall is actually the most important part of having a successful, and potentially stress free, year-round landscape?
To make this easier, let’s break it down into three areas to work on in the next few months – reflection, planning, and preparation.
Bonus: You can also apply this plan to your personal life goals.
Alright, let’s go!
Fall is the best time to reflect on what worked and didn’t work. Did your dream of a lush backyard oasis turn more into an inner city sidewalk with a few plants – a forgotten one at that – or did your DIY patio project turn more into an abstract art piece on the side of your house? On the other hand, maybe you had one of the most successful summers, which has earned you a green thumb title among your family and friends.
You have had months to get comfortable with your landscape. You have had time to see the growth, colors and movement of your yard with this years weather. Now it’s time to ask the questions to help solidify your needs and wants for next year.
- What worked and what didn’t? Be specific. Think about plant location, productivity, colors, personal preference, plant type, and functionality of every aspect of your landscape. Did your okra not grow in the back right hand side of your garden? Did you find out halfway through summer that you have severe drainage issues near the driveway? Maybe your grass wasn’t as vibrant as you hoped, but the hydrangeas were absolutely fantastic. Write. It. Down. Make a detailed list, check it twice, then do another walk through outside.
- Did you get everything done you wanted? We all have those projects!
- What did you see elsewhere, that you really liked? Did your best friend have a flower garden that brought all the bees to the yard? Or did you become slightly obsessed with rain gardens at the beginning of summer but never had a chance to pursue it any further? For some, this is where pinterest comes in handy.
- How much time did you spend in your yard? While this may seem irrelevant at first, it is actually one of the most important parts of having a successful landscape. Be honest. Be realistic. It will help you during the next step of planning.
Take your time answering these questions and researching solutions to your problems. For example, if you could not get this one section of ferns to grow, do some research on what allows success with that particular species.
Now is the time to take those detailed answers to the above questions and figure out a plan of action. This is your massive plan towards having the best looking yard on the block, a garden that could feed a family of 10, and/or that backyard oasis that gets you out of the house and in touch with nature.
Try setting SMART goals to help make sure your plan is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. This is really where our reflection questions come into play. Especially that last one.
Here are some key pointers that can help the planning process.
- Personal commitment and abilities – How much time can you legitimately spend on the upkeep and success of your landscape? Do you need to bring in help for projects outside of your knowledge, abilities or time commitment? Look at what you completed this year and compare that with the time you spent doing it. If you were on track and crossing of your to-do’s – perfect! If not, can that realistically change next year and if so, what are you going to do differently?
- Budget – How much can you put aside for yard accessories, additional plants, or projects that you want to get done. If you can invest in landscaping, now is a great time to make commitments.
- What do you need to do now? – While you check out our preparation section below, make notes as to what applies to you. This will help you with the chores you need to do this fall, to ensure a healthy and successful spring. Waiting until right before spring can sometimes delay your spring goals, and create more obstacles for your yard.
- Creating a timeline – Once you have your master plan, make different tasks for each month. Yes – even in December you can do something. Whether that is buying clearance yard tools, outside furniture or setting up an appointment with our sales team during the winter months to help achieve your needs – it all can be done!
Plan now and be ahead of the game when spring comes. Don’t wait for a New Year’s Resolution project. Start now and help avoid the winter blues and distractions.
During the fall, you need to continue doing maintenance on your landscape, even if you are personally feeling over it. If you decide to press pause now until the beginning of March or April, then you aren’t preparing your landscape to be the best it can be during the winter, spring, and following summer. In fact, it could all go to waste – creating more work for you!
Sometimes looking at a task from a different perspective can help bring new life or spark a new interest. Instead of looking at all of this as fall maintenance, think of it more as a preparing for the future. We can’t run a marathon without training (ask our supervisor Michael Poole about that one), so don’t expect to have an award winning backyard without preparing during the less “fun” seasons in some way or another.
Here are our main suggestions for preparing your landscape for next spring. Combine the relevant ones into your plan of action. Simple, right?
- Understand your soil, then aerate, seed, and fertilize as needed. This is a great time to determine pH and nutrient availability in your soil. Healthy soil plays such an important part in the success of your landscape. Once you have tested your soil, now is the time to aerate and seed your lawn, especially the areas that have been overly used and/or struggling.
- Keep track of the rain and your watering. If it isn’t raining, don’t forget to water your plants. Keep making sure your plant life gets regular water until the ground freezes and the trees have lost their leaves. You want strong hydrated roots during the winter months, not dry and weak ones.
- Mulching. Check your mulch out. See if you need to add additional mulch or pine needles, while at the same time turning – fluffing it up – the already present mulch. This will help with water absorption, as well bring to light any diseases that may have developed over time.
- Tree, Shrub, Bulb, Perennial Planting. This goes along with your overall plan of your yard. If you need to purchase new plants to help reach your landscaping goals, this is definitely a time when you can do that. Make sure to research what you want, find the correct times to plant, and follow the rules.
- Leaf control – There are a lot of options with handling your fallen leaves. If it easier focus on leaf removal, then you will want to work in a plan on how that is going to get done and when. Many people, however, utilize their leaves to put nutrients back into their garden bed soil. Leaves are nutrient dense organic matter that, if used properly, can help fertilize your garden soil for the next year. You can either get a leaf chopper, or pile up your leaves and run them over with a lawn mover (things can be fun!), then disperse into your garden. Plan accordingly, as leaving them all until the end can really take away from one of your fall activities.
- Irrigation Winterization. With fall and then winter, comes freezing weather. You will want to make sure that you understand the irrigation system that you have, and find out the proper way to winterize it. Check out these detailed instructions at over at Hunter Industries.
- Container Maintenance. We all love how container gardens look during the spring and summer. What we don’t typically like are dead plants during the winter. It’s like emphasizing sadness in those containers! Remember to take in your container plants that can’t survive outside during the change of seasons, especially the plants not native to this area. Again, this is a time to plan on what you may want to plant next year in those containers.
- Divide Perennials. Do you have those large, well established perennials? Take the time to really look at what has grown throughout the years, and divide the overgrown and clumped. If not taken care of, they can die out in the middle, produce smaller flowers, and/or become more susceptible to diseases. This also becomes a chance to share with friends or to make additions to other areas.
- Dead removal. Getting read of the dead matter will help everything flourish during the spring time. Those that are dead limbs or plants can be used as compost, firewood, or simply discarded. Ask yourself whether it is dead, dying, diseased or damaged. Remember, diseased plants such as tomatoes affected by the blight will need to be removed completely off premises – don’t set yourself up for failure next year!
- Tree and Shrub pruning. You will want to do this lightly, but it can be done during the later fall for trees and shrubs. Understandably, larger trees can be intimidating, especially if near your house – or neighbors house – so make sure to reach out to us if you have any concerns beyond your capabilities. Our master arborist with his team can give you the information you need to help preserve your trees, as well as keep you and your property safe.
- Put away your tools and equipment. This is a great time to put all of your yard equipment away, and even doing a little organization. It is much easier to start spring off on a good note, instead of having to pick up after last seasons forgotten items.
Let us know if we can be of assistance with any of the projects you decide on, or if you realize you need help maintaining your landscape’s needs. By the way, if you didn’t know when to turn the time back, it’s Sunday, November 6!
Team Snow Creek