Fall Landscaping Duties

So it’s fall and you’re trying to sell your home.  Though you hope you won’t be living in your current house for much longer, this is not the time to completely shirk your fall landscaping duties.  Not only is there the chance the home doesn’t sell before next spring, but all the work you put into making it look good shouldn’t just go to waste.  Do what you can to preserve it for the potential buyer of your home.  Here are some of the most basic things you should do to prepare your landscaping, gardens, and lawn for the winter.  not selling

Take care of your lawn.  Fall is the best time to fertilize because our northern lawn grasses resume active growth when nights get cooler and longer.  Applying fertilizer now and a second time in mid-October to early November will ensure the lawn is green and lush next spring.  Though it is a little too late to seed areas of your lawn which may have grown thin, it's not too late to aerate or top-dress a lackluster lawn with a thin layer of completed compost.  Unlike compost, a thick layer of leaves can cause snow mold, which will damages the grass.  To avoid this, rake the leaves, bag them and save them to use as winter mulch. If you have just a thin layer of leaves on your lawn, run the mower over them a couple of times and leave it. If your grass is 3 to 4 inches long or longer, mow your lawn once or twice more. It's best to leave grass about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long going into winter.

Continue your watering regimen.  Because we had yet another dry summer, your lawn, plants, and trees may be stressed by drought.  This is a vulnerable position for them to be in heading into the winter.  Unless we get at least an inch of rain a week (like the storm earlier this week that doused Saint Paul with 1.46 inches of rain), water deeply once a week until the ground begins to freeze.

Do some general clean up.  As temperatures cool, now is another good time to trim back or deadhead overgrown perennials. Cut down those that show signs of disease.  If you have a potted garden, its time to empty containers. After your plants die by frost, dump the plants and the soil.  Wash and dry the empty containers and store them. Terra cotta, ceramic and concrete containers can crack and break if left outside, so use plastic or metal containers for any winter displays.

Plant Spring Bulbs.  To ensure that there is a show of flowers in the spring if you stay, and to surprise future home buyers if you don’t, now is the time to plant bulbs.  Daffodils should be in the ground by the end of September, but tulips, hyacinths, crocus and scilla and other spring-blooming bulbs can be planted until around mid-October. There's no need to fertilize your bulbs, but you should water them after planting.  As before, water them once each week unless there is significant rainfall.

Protect your plants. When the ground begins to freeze, it’s time to mulch the bulb beds. You can use the leaves you collected earlier to insulates the soil around some of your perennials.  Winter mulch is important, because it helps maintain even soil moisture, prevents cold air from penetrating as deeply into the soil, and helps averts some of the freeze-thaw cycles that can damage or kill plants. It's also a good idea to mulch around the base of young trees and shrubs. Use 4 to 8 inches of straw or hay or up to 12 inches of dry leaves. It's best to wait until the ground starts to freeze, which typically happens in mid-November in the Twin Cities. If the ground hasn't frozen by early December, go ahead and mulch anyway.

These are some tips provided by the Star Tribune to help keep your landscaping looking great, even if you plan on selling your home.

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