While none of us like to see the summer, end, it’s hard to argue that the fall season in the Naperville area is spectacular. Cool, crisp air, farmers markets filled with pumpkins, gourds and dried corn, and a colorful show of leaves and autumn flowers bring enjoyment without leaving our own backyard! This is also the best time of year to treat our outdoor space with some extra care, as it gets ready to sleep through another cold winter season.
Your fall checklist may include the following:
- MULCH: The Chicago Botanic Garden tells us that “Fall is the best time to give your trees, perennials and shrubs a good layer of mulch.” Mulch minimizes weeds, reduces water loss, and encourages plant growth by assisting in nutrient amendment and reducing soil erosion. Take care when applying the mulch, as too much is far worse than none at all. Many gardeners make the mistake of building a mulch “volcano” around the base of a tree or other plant. Only air should come in direct contact with the tree bark: anything else fosters disease, mold, and other maladies. Mulch should be applied in terms of width, not depth. Thumb-deep is enough. Look for organic, composted types. Though they are often free for the taking, avoid using wood chips over the root zone. Use woodchips only for “p” surfaces: pathways, picnic areas, playgrounds, parking, etc.
- FERTILIZE: Late fall is a great time to fertilize your lawn and trees. The University of Illinois Extension says September is an ideal time to apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers to your lawn. Nitrogen will green it up and encourage growth. Late fall is the time to fertilize trees and shrubs in our area, once they go dormant. Newly planted trees and shrubs and those that are well established and healthy probably do not need fertilization. The Morton Arboretum says, “ Trees and shrubs that need fertilization to stimulate more robust and vigorous growth include those exhibiting pale green, undersized leaves and reduced growth rates and those in declining condition (e.g. dead branch tips, dieback) resulting from insect attacks or disease problems.”
- PLANT OR RELOCATE TREES AND SHRUBS: Relocating shrubs in the fall, as they go dormant, will help them avoid the shock of transplanting. Be sure to water newly transplanted shrubs deeply to help them get established in their new setting. As far as planting new trees and shrubs, the University of Illinois tells us, “Fall is considered the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Cooler and more even climate conditions prevail in the fall, resulting in less stress to plants during establishment. Soils are easier to work in the fall and are warmer, stimulating good root growth. “
- PLAN OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Take some time now to plan where to install outdoor lighting, to provide a welcoming addition to your home all winter, while adding security and safety for family and friends. Pathway lighting is a practical addition, and up-lighting for specimen trees and other architectural features will add drama and warmth. Lights in your backyard will save you trouble and worry if you have pets to let out in the winter, or if you want to extend your entertaining on the patio well into the season!
- PLAN HARDSCAPE DESIGN: Many people wait until late spring to plan a new hardscape design for their outdoor space, but now is the time! As summer winds down, you are most familiar with how you use your space, and can plan a patio, pathway, outdoor kitchen, fire pit and other outdoor amenities with your family’s needs in mind.
O’Donovan and Son Landscaping has over 45 years of experience in the Naperville area, planning and installing outdoor living spaces for your residence. We have a large selection of trees and shrubs, and will help you select the right variety for your space. Our designers will help you plan lighting and hardscapes to complement your home, increase its value and provide years of enjoyment. Call us at 630-355-3370 for information on making your landscape complete.