Crisp, cool mornings. Perfect “sleeping weather” at night. The leaves are turning, the Halloween festivities are done, — yes all the dentists in Prosper will soon be booked so schedule your visits soon — and we look ahead to a season of Thanksgiving soon.
Fall is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons, and not just for the wonderful weather. This is that special time of year when we prepare and plant and transplant now, anticipating a wonderful spring and summer a few months in the future.
Let’s take a look at four areas pertinent to the season: pruning, weed control, budgeting and tree selection.
The end of summer and the very beginning of fall is a good time for some gentle pruning. But note the emphasis on the word “gentle.” Careful shaping of trees and shrubs can be tackled right now, but this isn’t the time to do any major trimming with those pruning shears.
Extensive fall pruning could generate too much succulent growth and an early freeze could then damage the plant. It is better to do major pruning just before spring while the plants are still dormant.
A friend of mine told me that he doesn’t believe in getting rid of weeds. “If I killed off all weeds and broadleaf, I wouldn’t have anything green at all to look at,” he said. If you said “amen” then maybe you can skip this section, but for the rest of us, this is a good time to apply a systemic weed killer such as Roundup, the chemical name for which is glyphosate. Actively-growing weeds absorb the glyphosate through their leaves and suck it down to the roots. It can take a couple of weeks to totally kill the weeds, as the absorption process is relatively slow. Avoid the temptation to cut back weeds before the process is complete or you’ll prevent the glyphosate reaching the roots.
Products like Roundup work best when the ambient temperature is still fairly warm, so don’t wait too long to attack your weeds. Check the weather forecast, too, and avoid applying just before a rain shower which would wash it off. Also not to late (if you have not already) a pre-emergent product to help winter weeds from emerging.
If you prefer not to use chemicals, you can of course use a small gardening fork or trowel and carefully remove all the offending weeds by hand.
It’s a good idea to devote some thought to how much you can comfortably invest in your landscape this season. And yes, it is an investment that will pay off next spring and probably for years ahead. Do some comparison shopping to find a good balance between price and quality. Your PC, phone or tablet is the perfect tool as it allows you to go “Windows” shopping without leaving home.
I suggest you get a pad and start writing down plants and prices as you come across them during your online search. For those of you who have to see, touch and feel it, most local nurseries this time of year will start to mark down some of their overstocked items so as not to create extra maintenance costs throughout the winter.
As you make your fall selections, don’t forget about trees. Truly, trees are an investment in so many ways. They can shade your home from summer sun and protect it from icy winter winds. They reduce soil erosion and help to lower your utility bills. When it comes time to move, carefully chosen trees create “curb appeal” for would-be buyers and increase the value of your property.
Summer blooming trees like crape myrtles and vitex respond well to a deadhead-type pruning. Removing spent flowers and seed heads often generates new growth and another round of blossoms. If you’d like some of my personal recommendations for trees you might want to select, send me an email with a few basic details about your location, etc, and I’ll get back to you with some ideas.
Other fall tips
Despite the warm temperatures, now is an ideal time to plant many flowers. With cooler season ahead plants like pansies, violas, kale, cabbage, snapdragons and dianthus for winter.
The fall is when perennials such as irises, daylilies, amaryllises, shasta daisies, coneflowers and salvias should be dug and divided if needed. Winter said the general rule of thumb is to divide plants in the season opposite their bloom.
Dividing serves at least two purposes: it will provide you with more plants to enjoy and it will increase the plants’ blooming ability.
Winter recommended sowing wildflower seeds, such as larkspur, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan and liatris, now for next year’s bloom. They will germinate this fall and bloom next spring.
Most of all, enjoy this beautiful season.
Question: Jimmie, I recently installed a swimming pool in our backyard and am going to attempt to landscape it myself — it’s my first landscaping project so don’t be surprised if I’m calling you for help soon when I screw it up — I want to include a few palm trees but I’m not sure what types are considered hearty here? Please help! Amy L. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Amy, I’m sure you will do great job. If not, we are always here to help you if need be. Probably a few of the most hearty palms for our climate zone are Mexican fan palm, windmill palm, sabal palm, sago palm and Mediterranean palm depending on your personal preference of the different types of foliage.
Until next time… happy gardening.
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or in care of the Prosper Press at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.