It is officially fall. The air is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to turn and it is a great time to give your yard a little TLC.

Before the temperatures really drop, there are a few ways to revitalize your landscaping this season and keep it healthy for the future. Westerville Parks and Urban Forest Manager, Matthew Urley, shows us the best seasonal practices to make your property look great and prepare it for winter.

Planting

Fall is the perfect time to plant. Before the ground freezes, you can put in plants, bulbs or trees. The cooler fall temperatures reduce stress on new plants. It also can ease the strain on your landscaping budget, as many nurseries have sales in the fall to sell off their inventory before winter.

  • After pulling out your annuals, you can split perennials that you already have to cover more ground.

  • Be sure to plant bulbs at the right depth (check the tag for proper directions).

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  • Back-fill the holes with the original soil, lightly compress when finished and water soon after planting if it doesn’t rain.

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Mulching

Spreading mulch on your beds and around trees before winter helps protect your plants. It may also help prevent the roots from freezing and keep moisture needed by the plants during dry periods.

  • Using natural mulch is best because it breaks down and provides organic material to the soil.
  • Avoid building a mound of mulch (A.K.A. volcano mulching) around the trees as it can hold moisture on the trunk causing rot. It can also increase the chance of structural defects such as girdling roots where roots tightly wrap around the trunk cutting off water and nutrients between the roots and branches.

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  • A good rule of thumb is to place mulch two to three inches deep.

Pruning

Prune trees in the fall after the leaves have fallen and you can better see the tree structure. Pruning can help make trees healthy and strong, look more aesthetically appealing and thwart damage from heavy snowfall.

  • Get rid of dead or damaged branches and low limbs that cause obstruction. This is especially important with street trees hanging over a sidewalk to make it easier and safer for people to use.

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  • Prune off crossing or competing branches leaving only one branch to continue to grow in that area.

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  • Cut out water sprouts or suckers growing from the base of the tree for a nicer appearance.
  • Wait until winter to trim your Oak trees to protect them against Oak Wilt .

After you are done sprucing up the lawn, don’t forget to bag up or bundle yard waste for Monday collection (see http://www.westerville.org/service).

Now feel that sense of accomplishment from a job well done and a happy yard!