FALL LANDSCAPING TIPS
from Art That Grows
All of us at Art That Grows hope each of you made it through our excessively hot summer and you are ready for the fall season's soil preparation and the addition of warm, rich color and interesting varieties of shape and texture. Here are our thoughts and tips about what to do next, as we also shared in the Dallas Morning News - Fall is Here feature article:
There are three things to focus on preparing your lawn and gardens for Winter in North Texas. Doing these three things will help get your lawn and garden in shape for the upcoming cold weather, and give you a head start when it comes to getting ready for Spring:
Check your watering system. After the hot (and sometimes brutal) Summers we have in Texas, you should be able to see where your watering systems are working, and where they are not. Brown patches suggest a lack of water, and dead or dying limbs, leaves and branches on plants, trees, and shrubs will help tell you the immediate concern areas. It is also a good idea to run every zone in the sprinkler system, while light outside, and see how grass may have grown over a sprinkler head, or the spray nozzle is just not reaching certain parts of the garden. Set each zone to come on manually for about 2 minutes so you can have a chance to walk the zone and see and make notes of what is not working and needs attention.
Fertilize your lawn and flowers/shrub beds. Fertilize your lawn and flower/shrub beds. It is a good idea, now that we are out of Summer, to fertilize all areas of the garden with iron and an organic fertilizer. Both these items are good choices for North Texas soil because we have an alkaline based clay soil as opposed to an iron rich, acid soil. We suggest adding these items in pellet form, so they have a chance to slowly release into the soil over the next 3-6 months. They can be purchased at any home and garden shop.
Add a fine organic compost to areas that have not been composted in at least the last six months. We recommend a fine, organic compost over bark mulch for two reasons: 1) The organic compost will remain in place longer than bark mulch will. Bark mulch, because of its size, has a tendency to travel to other parts of the lawn, garden, sidewalk or driveway, and lose its ability to help plants!, and 2) Bark mulch tends to take nutrient energy away from the plants because the soil tries to break it down. That white looking substance on bark laying against the soil is this process in motion. If the soil uses energy to break down the bark, it is not using that same energy to provide nutrition to the plants.
Tip: Remove any dead plant material now. Limbs, branches should be removed so that the plant has the opportunity to direct its energy to other, living portions of the plant. If the plant has died, now is the time to remove it and replace it with something new. Despite what many people think, the dormant, colder months is the best time of the year to plant new material. Because the plants are not growing, they have time to acclimate to the new soil conditions, and will be ready to start growing once Spring hits. That way they can benefit from an entire growing season.
Tip: Fall is also a good time to fertilize any trees on the property. There are many companies that offer a “deep” fertilizing to the roots, or you can purchase other types of fertilizers at your local lawn and garden store. Trimming of trees is best for most of our large trees (oaks, elms, pecan, and other fruit trees) once we have had our first frost. That way, you know the tree is dormant and not sending energy to the leaves. Trimming at this time of year also reduces concerns for insect or other natural issues like fungus infestations.
Tip: There are many plants that can survive our “normal” winters in North Texas just fine, even when the temperatures fall well below 32, into the lower 20s or teens. Hollies, boxwoods, and Yaupons (also a type of holly commonly used in North Texas) should not require any type of covering during most cold snaps. However, as the temperatures dip below 20 degrees, most other plants should be covered to help ensure their protection. This can be a big task, but it will help ensure your investment is protected. North Haven Gardens, in particular, typically offers frost cloth as a means to cover plants and is sold relatively inexpensively by the foot, once we reach cold weather. Frost cloth is a great cover for plants because it allows the plants to breathe underneath the covering. Don’t ever cover plants in plastic. Blankets can be used, but tend to be heavy and could damage the plants. Regardless of what you use to cover the plants, make sure the covering is secured with nails or stakes. Our cold weather is almost ALWAYS accompanied by strong winds that will want to whip the covering off as soon as it is laid.