Fall Lawn

Greener Grass

This fall, ensure the grass is always greener on your side of the street. Keep your lawn green through winter simply by seeding with rye grass. Rye grass suits any climate in which a summer lawn becomes dormant. Best of all, seeding won't take more than 30 minutes.

When first few cool nights of fall arrive, mow your lawn as close as you can, then fertilize. To ensure green throughout the winter, seed warm-season lawns with annual ryegrass or any blend formulated for what's known as "overseeding". A blend of annual rye grass such as Axcella, Barverdi, or TransEze work well when added to typical warm-season lawns.


Bundled Plants Covered with Plastic

Bring Plants Indoors

While a garage or greenhouse is preferable, a bright window will suffice. Because indoor light is dimmer, prune the branches back to reduce dead leaves. Finally, spray the plant thoroughly with insecticide, otherwise, mites and insects could spread to other houseplants.

Pot the plant in a container at least two inches wider than the roots. If it's already a potted plant, take a small pruning saw and cut away an inch of the roots all around.

Once the plant is potted, fill in around the root ball with fresh potting soil. Water, then fertilize. Keep watering but you won't need to fertilize it again until the plant produces new leaves. Then feed the plant once a month.

Bundle Your Favorite Plants

When temperatures in your area drop lower than your bushes can tolerate, you might want to bundle up your plants to protect them through the cold weather.

First, prune to reduce the size of the bush so that it fits into the blanket of straw, plastic, Styrofoam cone, or any other winter covering you choose.


Pruning

Prune Trees and Shrubs

There are two basic reasons for pruning. The first is to promote the health of the tree or shrub by removing diseased wood and letting in more air and light. The second is to encourage a desired shape or form.

As temperatures drop and growing season slows to a halt, pruning helps the plants reserve energy and store food for the winter. Your plants will repay you with rapid growth in springtime.

Note: Pruning is all about timing. If a plant flowers in summer, it's best to prune in winter when it goes dormant. For plants that flower in spring, such as forsythia or lilac, it's best to prune just after the blooms have fallen.


Plants in a Shaded Area

Start Your Spring Garden

Don't let the first frost steal beloved plants like coleus, Swedish ivy, geraniums, Dragon Wing Hybrid begonias and basil. Try these simple steps for propagation.

Pick a cool time of day, and carry shears and a bucket filled with 2 inches of water into the garden. From the top of the plant, go down the stem 4 or 5 inches, and cut directly above a set of leaves. Remove every leaf from the bottom 2 inches of the cut.

Place the freshly cut stems in the bucket of water and store it in the house or a shaded area.

Separate the cuttings by type, fill disposable cups or jelly jars with water, and place no more than four cuttings in each. Set them in a windowsill or well-lit area. Change the water weekly, and pinch off any flowers that appear.

When roots develop in a few weeks, you'll have a few old friends waiting to help get your spring garden started.


A Mulching Mower

Get Mulch for Free

Using foliage as mulch is probably the easiest -- and cheapest -- way to fertilize your lawn and produce great soil for spring. First, rake up leaves, and add them to the flowerbeds. The extra layer of leaves will keep roots cool, help retain moisture and slow weed growth.

Add rakes leaves to a compost pile for next year's fertilizer, or use a mulching mower to break down foliage and distribute it.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't occasionally rake leaves throughout the fall. After a rain, a covering of leaves becomes a wet blanket that can suffocate your lawn.


Bulbs and Topsoil

Plant Bulbs for Spring Blooms

A bag of bulbs and a couple of bags of topsoil can transform a corner of your yard into next year's garden focal point.

Most garden centers, nurseries, and mail-order catalogs offer bulbs each fall, and you can buy them in bulk to reduce costs. Good growers provide collections of tulips, daffodils, peonies, hyacinths, amaryllis and paperwhites.

Plants bulbs in drifts in your yard, or in a series of large containers. You can also plant bulbs in several smaller pots to dress up a deck or porch. Use high-quality potting soil to fill the container, make sure it has sufficient drainage holes, and space each bulb about 3 or 4 inches apart. Mix in a little bulb booster to give the plants a head start. Don't overwater. Bulbs will need moderate moisture until foliage begins to emerge.


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