Tips & Decorating Advice for Your Home and Garden
Fall Garden FAQ:
About the Author: David Beaulieu's career as a landscape and garden writer builds on a decade of prior work with landscaping plants in the nursery business, and on a lifelong love of plants of all kinds.
Question: What is the most easily overlooked chore in fall gardens?
Answer: Many landscapers are so busy winterizing their lawns, gardens, shrubs and trees that they quite forget about a piece of equipment that has served them well on all those areas of the landscape during the spring, summer and fall -- the garden hose. Our garden hoses lie around on their garden hose reels for so many months consecutively that they become a landscaping fixture that we take for granted. But northern gardeners pay a great price for this oversight when winter arrives, bringing temps in the teens. Bring garden hoses in for storage prior to winter! Also bring their reels in for storage, especially if the reels have any metal components. And more important than a garden hose being ruptured through freezing is what the garden hose is connected to -- your water pipes. Ruptured pipes are costly and inconvenient to replace. So remember:
• Drain your garden hoses, and bring them in for storage and...
• Turn off the outside water supply.
Question: How long into the fall season should I continue to mow the lawn?
Answer: This one's a lot easier to answer than you might imagine. Simply continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing! Weather will determine this, not some artificial deadline.
Question: Why should I be watering trees in fall?
Answer: You should be watering trees properly in fall, for the same reasons given for watering shrubs. The winter damage that trees sustain often stems from their inability to draw water from the frozen earth. Watering trees properly in fall can minimize the damage. The following is the proper regimen for watering trees in fall:
• Stop watering trees, both evergreen and deciduous, throughout early autumn, until the time when the leaves of the deciduous trees fall. This will allow both evergreen and deciduous trees to enter a transitional phase, not unlike the "hardening off" undergone by nursery plants in spring. What you're trying to avoid here is causing spurts of new growth that won't be winter-hardy.
• In late autumn, after the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, give both evergreen and deciduous trees (and shrubs) a deep watering. This should be done before the ground freezes. Following this regimen for watering trees is especially important for the evergreen trees, which, although their growth slows down, do not enjoy the period of dormancy that helps protect deciduous trees.
It even helps to water evergreen trees during "January thaw" and other warm periods that pop up unexpectedly in winter.
Question: What maintenance should I perform on the lawn mower before storing it away?
Answer: Drain out the lawn mower's gas in late fall. You'll be glad that you did, next spring, when you go
to start up the lawn mower again. Letting the old gas sit around in the lawn mower all winter and get gummy is not conducive to having easy lawn mower maintenance next spring, when you begin mowing again –the lawn mower won't start up easily.
Note: Thanks to Jim Hagon of CTE Engineers for his input in this answer. It must be emphasized that it is the gas that you should drain out of your lawn mower, not the oil! Oil is serving a function in lawn mower maintenance even when the lawn mower is in storage. Gas, by contrast, serves no such function.
Gardening Tip of the Month
Don't cut back perennial plants all the way to ground level. Leave 2-3 inches of stem remaining. They will trap leaves and snow that will mulch the plant crowns and they will help you remember where the plants are, in the spring.
© Copyright, 2010 Main Street Magazine/Rain Enterprises
As seen in the October Issue of Main Street Magazine.
Printed in Canada, ISSN: 1920-4299 by Rain Enterprises
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