Fall cleanup is usually perceived as a monumental task. You have two choices - call a professional or act like one. The following is Summit Outdoor Solutions recommendations (how we would do it) for a Fall Cleanup.
Walk the property and remove any dead branches or limbs you can reach. This is not pruning! Your time has passed for that and we will cover why in our BTW List.
Remove all organic debris and mulch it for the spring. If you don’t have a mulcher - put it aside for the lawn mower. I shouldn’t have to say this but my attorney insists - only leaves, twigs, parts of healthy plants, etc. Lawn mowers don’t like pieces of thick wood and other heavy objects!
Here is another “I shouldn’t have to say” this. Number 2 includes leaves. If not removed before the first snow it will beat down the grass and provide places for varmints leaving you with dead spots in the spring.
Set your lawn mower lower and make the last cut of the year. We recommend around 3 inches. It will strengthen the roots and reduce fungus problems.
Your lawn is almost ready for a long winter's slumber, aeration and fertilization are the finishing touches. Aeration (perforating your lawn with small holes) decompacts the soil allowing water and fertilizer to penetrate to the roots. Now lay a slow acting / time release fertilizer that will nourish over the winter giving your grass a head start for spring.
Once the property is clean, water the following flora:
Any Trees and Shrubs that still have leaves
Any young trees (under 3 years old)
Evergreens every week if there is no rain
Rhododendrons and pine trees - both lose moisture from their leaves and needles all winter - fill it up while you can
Wrap small Evergreens to protect it from deer and weather - EXCEPT in areas with excessive salting. The burlap will absorb it and kill the tree.
Sounds like allot? It is, and that is why calling a landscape professional like SOS is the smart move. We will do it better and faster.
BTW - Here are a few more things we will or will not do - this is a hint:
Mulch all the leaves and small twigs, you can use a mower and place the finished product in bags for the spring. This organic debris makes excellent mulch after a few months of aging. Just remember our legal fine print in #2.
Pull out all of your annuals and diseased perennials. If it is healthy it is potential compost, if it is not - don’t contaminate next year's flora.
I will close with a big don’t - even if your trees and shrubs look a little overgrown, wait until next spring. Pruning involves removing tissue and opening wounds in a plant that still has the winter to contend with. The injuries have no time to heal. There exists a chance that a pruned tree or shrub could have dieback at the site of the injuries caused by severe cold. Overgrown still looks pretty when covered in snow.
Taken together, this is why you should have a professional landscape maintenance company working for you. Our arid alpine environment has water needs year round, especially true during months when we get little snow. SOS’s deep root watering service includes a yucca based soil conditioner to increase drainage in dense clay soil. Our high pressure pump system uses a soil probe to inject water mix 12 inches below the surface increasing air exchange. Tools you don’t typically have in your shed.
Next Week: Winterizing Your Irrigation System