Prepare Your Yard for Fall
Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for yard work. And we regret to tell you this, but you’re running out of time. The average first frost date here in Gainesville is November 21, which means you need to get started ASAP.
Because we live in Florida, we don’t have the same concerns regarding severe winter conditions as do our neighbors to the north. But we still have cooler—even occasionally freezing—temperatures to prepare for. Here are a few tips on how to ready your yard now for fall and winter.
By all means, clear away any diseased or rotting vegetation from around your yard. At the same time, though, consider leaving as much herbaceous material as possible to serve as shelter for beneficial pollinators.
Such pollinators as butterflies, moths, bees, and beetles need places to overwinter. If you cut back and remove your ornamental grass, for example, you could be discarding praying mantis egg cases or overwintering bees; if you pull out dead coneflowers, you’re removing their seeds that birds could be eating, and so on.
Invasive weeds are another matter. Small infestations can be pulled by hand; larger patches can be treated sans chemicals with an organic herbicide. Check your garden center or online for earth-friendly weed controls, or make one yourself with salt water or vinegar. Just be sure to treat only the undesirable weeds, though, because this solution will kill all vegetation it contacts.
One cleanup chore you can safely skip right now is pruning shrubs and trees. This is ideally done during the winter when the plants are either dormant or nearly so.
If you have a mulching attachment on your mower and you’ve been mulching as you mow all summer, your lawn may not require any fertilizer. If you do choose to apply it, this is the best time, when summer’s rains have subsided and it is less likely to wash into waterways, harming wildlife. In addition, look for earth-friendly lawn fertilizer, which is available from many suppliers these days.
Leaves provide shelter for a host of beneficial insects, but if they’ve created a carpet on your lawn, it’s better to mulch them and allow their nutrients to work into the soil than to rake, blow, or vacuum them up entirely.
If you must dispose of such yard waste, however, try to avoid placing it in plastic bags. You can find large, 30-gallon paper bags for yard waste at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, and elsewhere.
While our northern cousins’ growing season has pretty well ended by now, we here in Florida can still get in another crop of cool-weather vegetables. These include lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach, and collards. Also consider some herbs to perk up those vegetables when you prepare them, including rosemary, thyme, mint, and lavender.
And if you’ve ever tried to plant petunias here, you know that they just can’t take our long, hot summers. But they do like our cooler fall temperatures, as do snapdragons and many bulb flowers, among others. Check with your local garden center to see what varieties are available to plant now.
This is also the ideal time to plant shrubs and trees, as they will have time to get established over the winter before the warmer months of spring and summer. And remember the birds: Choose native plants that offer food, nesting sites, and refuge. The University of Florida suggests such plants as holly, American beautyberry, and red mulberry as plants that produce fruits and berries birds will appreciate.
And remember, when you’re ready to move up to a sustainable home in a family-friendly community, you’ll definitely want to consider Tommy Williams Homes. Talk to us today!