The Dirt! Colorado Fall to Winter Lawn and Garden Tips

The leaves are falling and the colors are fading. This is a sign of our gardens, trees, shrubs and lawns taking a nap while the blustery Jack Frost stops in for a long visit. Just because they are not showing their more colorful sides, let’s not forget about our rooted friends over the winter. There is watering, fertilizing, and planting that can still be done to ensure a plethora of healthy vegetation come next season!

Watering: First and foremost, make sure your perennials, trees and shrubs are deeply watered before the weather changes. Roots that are dry leading into the winter months can compromise the overall health of your plants.Once this is done, continue to water a couple times per month from October thru March during extended dry periods without snow cover. According to American Tree Colorado, “Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.“

Weed Control: Whether you use an herbicide or plain old elbow grease, it is important to keep up on unwanted weeds in your lawn, mulch and rock areas. Many feel that perennial weeds such as dandelion, plantain and bindweed are worth getting rid of since they extend their roots deeper in the fall so they may survive the winter. If these are the bane of your lawn’s existence, remove them
now before they return next year bigger than ever and with a larger family.

Fertilizing and Overseeding: According to “If the lawn has been properly fertilized in the late summer and fall, turf grass can begin to store carbohydrate reserves in the stems, rhizomes, and stolons. These carbohydrate reserves help grass resist winter injury and disease, and serve as a source of energy for root and shoot growth the following spring. A late fall fertilization will also provide better winter color, enhanced spring green up and increased rooting.”

Properly overseeding tired looking lawns will result in fresh, lush turf come late spring. If you choose to go this route, purchase drought-tolerant grass seed varieties that will eventually take over the yesterday’s lawn. “These seeds are sold specifically to local retailers (not box stores) and bred to tackle tough life in sunny, dry Colorado (Denver Post’s Punch List: Fall watering, planting bulbs and pre-winter lawn care 2017).

On a freshly aerated lawn, using a drop spreader, move the grass seeds in two different directions over the entirety of the lawn. Next, fertilize your lawn (do not use a weed-and-feed type fertilizer after overseeding) and water. Continue to water while temps are still warm.

Aeration: Fall aeration is a great way to get a jump start on next year’s healthy lawn. Aeration removes 2-3 inch plugs of grass and thatch from your lawns surface which relieves soil compaction while improving the root zone as well assisting with thatch build-up. You can consider this a ‘breather’ for your lawn. If you decide to do this chore yourself, here are some helpful tips: “Deeply
water the lawn a day or two before aerating the lawn. It should be moist a couple of inches deep, but not soggy. Flag any sprinkler heads to avoid damage. With a core aerator, make several passes in crisscrossing directions, creating holes 2 inches apart (think Swiss cheese), and pull plugs 2 to 3 inches deep,” according to the Denver Post’s Punch List: Fall watering, planting bulbs and pre-winter lawn care 2017.

Bulbs: Want a sure sign of spring when the time comes? Plant bulbs now through the end of October to ensure the bulbs root before the ground freezes.

For healthy, happy blooms, it is important to amend the soil. Loosen soil, dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the height of the bulb and add a phosphorous or balanced fertilizer to the hole when planting. Water after planting and a couple times per month during winter dry spells.

Gardens: Planting crop covers help to keep your garden soil from blowing in the wind once the plants have been removed. They also provide much needed color in the winter months and once turned under in your garden bed this spring, crop covers add nourishment to your garden soil.

If you haven’t already, pull your summer’s plants (except for cool weather plants) and add them to the compost pile. Remove any weeds and add them
to the trash. Before the end of October, choose the variety of crop cover (Winter Rye is very hardy) and plant away. Water once when planted
and then only twice per month throughout the winter until spring arrives.

Slowly acclimatize your indoor plants that have been hanging outside. Before the nightly temperatures stay below 50 degrees, move your indoor plants to a shady area for several days before bringing them inside for the winter. This will allow them to ready themselves for the lower light they will find inside. Repot overgrown plants, remove damaged growth and give the plants a light fertilizer before the move.

With a bit of effort, good intent and a little patience, your lawn and garden will sleep well this winter and shine next season! Keep up the great work!

Stay tuned for the next issue of The Dirt! In the meantime, if you have questions regarding residential or commercial real estate and/or property management, please give Your Neighborhood Realtors a call!

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