Late Fall Hours:
NOVEMBER 2017 LAWN DEPOT NEWSLETTER
This will be the last Newsletter for 2017, and as I sit down to write it (Nov.4), we still haven’t had any cold weather, and so although we expect the overnight temperatures to drop below freezing for the first time this season in a few days, we’ll have to remain a bit flexible in our recommendations; winter dormancy in lawns may come a bit later than usual this year. Bear in mind that we have several specific jobs to do in our yards at the end of the growing seasons, both with the lawns and all of the landscape plants and beds. Our objective here is to make sure that lawns and landscapes are neat and healthy, ready for winter dormancy and protected against weather and wildlife over the next several months. Lawns are still growing and will continue to do so for at least the next 3-4 weeks, so we want you all to continue mowing regularly (albeit less frequently from here on), to keep falling and blowing leaves from accumulating on lawns, to lime lawns if you haven’t already done so this year, and, most importantly to give the lawns their most important feeding of the year: root-promoting heavyweight LAWN DEPOT WINTERFEAST. In landscapes, we need to give trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers their dormant feedings, we need to clean up and clean out mulched areas and cut back now-dormant perennials, winter-protect vulnerable broadleaf shrubs against winter kill (windburn/sunscald) by applying our first layer of anti-desiccant spray (WILT STOP) and/or constructing burlap wind barriers on northern and western exposures. The more of these maintenance jobs you get to now, the easier your jobs will be next spring and the better your valuable landscapes will endure the potentially difficult weather over the next several months. So let’s all maintain our commitment to finishing off this truly magnificent growing year by getting to all the lawn and landscape jobs that still need to be done.
Our Lawn Depot Turf Management division is bringing its 2017 season to an end at this time. We’ve finished with the fall seeding and core aeration work, and are working hard on finishing up our WINTERFEAST fertilizer applications, and late fall liming applications, which will continue for at least the next several weeks, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. It has been a record-setting year for our Turf Management group, and for this we thank all of you who have patronized this premium service division for so long. We continue to respond to requests for lawn evaluations and estimates for 2018 lawn services, and will do so as long as the requests keep coming and the weather remains good. If you’re interested in a service quote, call us at 215-348-5553 or find us on the web at www.lawndepotinc.com and request an estimate. Shortly after the first of the year, we’ll be sending out our estimates for 2018, and we hope all of you who have used our services this year and before will be on board for 2018.
Lawn Depot Garden Center is still open every day (Monday through Saturday 8-5, Sunday 9-3), and will continue to be until the end of November. In December, we’ll have a reduced schedule, but we’ll still be open Monday through Saturday 9-5 for all your late fall lawn and gardening needs, as well as all the birding products (feeders, bird seed mixes, pest repellents) you’ll need to keep our feathered friends happy through the winter months. I’ve said it over and over again this year, but I’ll say it one more time… 2017, from the unusually mild January-February period, and right through the entire growing season has been one truly magnificent year for lawns and landscapes. We probably can’t expect it forever, but it sure has been great this year. We hope you all agree. And, as we approach the 2017 holiday season the entire Lawn Depot staff and I both thank you for making our jobs satisfying and enjoyable, for your continued loyalty and patronage, and for being our friends over the past 44 years. We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season, look forward to seeing many of you over the next few weeks, and certainly look forward to renewing relationships in 2018.
LAWNS IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER
Mowing and Leaf removal in the Late Fall – As the days get shorter and overnight temperatures drop consistently into the 30s and below, lawn growth will slow gradually until soil temperatures drop into the 30s. That’s not air temperatures, it’s soil temperatures. We encourage all of you to continue mowing until after top growth ceases. By doing so, lawns will look better all winter, will stay greener longer into the cold weather, and will green up faster in the spring, and will be less susceptible to winter diseases should we have a significant snow cover this winter. Additionally, leaves continue to fall on turf areas and/or blow in from adjacent properties, and it’s tremendously important that leaves not be allowed to accumulate on lawns, particularly at the end of the season. So, the best answer is to continue to mow regularly, at least every 7-10 days, through the end of the growing season. It’s very important that lawns be clean of leaves and recently mown as we enter the dormant time of the year.
Fertilizing with LAWN DEPOT WINTERFEAST – At this time of the year, with the cooler temperatures, growth of the above-ground portions of our lawns slows greatly, but because the ground right now is significantly warmer than the overnight air, roots will continue to grow for another several weeks (until soil temperatures reach the mid-30s). Lawn fertilization at this time with our LAWN DEPOT WINTERFEAST will build stronger roots while greening the grass blades. The result next spring will be an early-greening, more heavily-rooted lawn. We recommend 4 annual turf feedings: early and late spring and early and late fall. Of these, the MOST important is the last one because it builds/rebuilds roots in our heavy soils, which in turn will make lawns thicker, more drought and disease resistant during difficult growing periods.
Seeding in November with LAWN DEPOT EVERGREEN PERENNIAL RYEGRASS – Seeding any time after November 1 in this region is an iffy proposition at best. Because of the cooler temperatures, germination times are slowed greatly, even though we’ve got the best dews of the year. Therefore, any seeding should be emergency seeding only. This would be things like construction damage, new lawn areas, or situations like that. In these cases, seeding should be done only with Lawn Depot EVERGREEN HYBRID PERENNIAL RYEGRASS seed. To improve germination rates, cultivate the soil thoroughly and cover seed with PENN MULCH or TACK STRAW. And even though it’s true that seed, sown in the late fall and unable to germinate before the ground freezes, will be viable next spring for germination as the soil warms, we still don’t recommend it other than in emergencies. The spring is for weed and crabgrass control, both of which are incompatible with early germinating seed. If you’re seeding with EVERGREEN, seed at 5-8 lbs./1,000 sq. ft.
Liming Lawns in November and December (or beyond, if there’s no snow) – Lime is a soil conditioner, not a fertilizer. Lime neutralizes acidic soil (which is what we’re blessed with in Southeastern PA) and the effects of acid rains. Liming should be done to all lawns every year in order to maximize the benefits of fertilizer nutrients. Because lime works on soil, not grass plants, it makes no difference whether or not the grass is growing when you apply. Lawn Depot sells pelletized dolomitic lime. This form of the product is easy to handle and apply; it can be spread with any broadcast spreader, and its effect will be realized quickly. If you’ve not limed within the past 2-3 years, recommended correction rate of application is 50 lbs./1,000 sq. ft.; if you lime regularly, the maintenance rate is 15 lbs./1,000 sq. ft.
LANDSCAPES IN THE LATE FALL
Dormant Feeding of Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, and Bulbs – Now that the growing season is over for all our valuable landscape plantings but before the ground freezes solid, it’s time for late fall fertilization of small, young, flowering, and/or damaged (insects or diseases) trees, and all shrubs, perennials, spring flowering bulbs and ground covers. We need not feed well-established trees (over 15 ft. tall or with trunk diameters of over 5-6”); their roots are well enough established. But in general, all other landscape plantings (with the exception of roses, which are fed throughout the growing season) should be fed twice each year: as they come to life in the spring, in order to maximize growth and blooms, and after their growth year has ended in order to get the nutrients for next year’s growth into the root zones of the plants. All fertilizers used at this time of the year are slow-release feeds, either from natural organic sources or from formed pellets or spikes. With trees and larger shrubs, we recommend using tree spikes. We carry spikes for fruiting/flowering trees, evergreens, and deciduous trees, which are driven into the ground at the plants’ drip-lines, 12-15” deep, using 3 spikes for each 2” of trunk diameter. Leave insertion holes open; it’ll allow water to get to the spikes and speed up fertilizer availability to the roots. For all other plants in the landscape, we prefer slow-release granular fertilizers, broadcast liberally over the ground at the bases of the individual plants. Whenever you use granular fertilizers, be sure to water in thoroughly and to wash dust off the foliage of the plants. Remember that with this feeding you can apply the fertilizer liberally.
Cutting Back Perennials/Pruning Shrubs – Pruning shrubs in the late fall and/or cutting back perennials is more a matter of preference than what’s right or wrong. Trimming in the fall makes beds look neater over the winter and cleaner in the early spring; trimming in the spring allows us to enjoy the beauty of the plants (ornamental grasses, liriope, and other attractive landscape plants) over the winter. I prefer the neat approach; it gives me the added advantage in the early spring of not having to do it then. But that’s me. Another thing worth mentioning with the pruning of blooming shrubs (azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, many more); most blooming shrubs set flower buds in the fall; by pruning in late fall you’ll probably significantly reduce next spring’s bloom. On the other hand, if shrubs have grown out of hand and you need to reduce their footprints, you’ll get better, tighter spring growth (even without the blooms) if you prune now. It’s your choice. Keep in mind though that as a rule of thumb you should never remove more than 1/3 of the overall size of the tree or shrub as not to shock it or leave it vulnerable to winter damage.
Winter Protection of Vulnerable Hybrid Roses and Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs – Hybrid roses are grafted plants. That is, the beautiful tops are grafted to sturdy root stocks to maximize beauty and bloom of the shrub. These grafts are typically 2-4” above the crown of the rose and they are susceptible to winter damage from continuous freezing and thawing over the dormant time. You can help protect these grafts (and the whole bush) by top pruning the bush to 3 ft., gathering mulch around the stems and over the grafts, and protecting the bushes on northern and western exposures (where the burning winter winds come from). In the spring, remember to pull back the mounded mulch before the roses start pushing new growth.
With broad-leafed evergreens (azaleas, rhodies, etc.), particularly on northern and western exposures again, winter wind and sun can burn leaves, even kill the plants, if you leave these leaves exposed while the ground is frozen. This is called desiccation, and it happens when wind dries out leaves when moisture can’t be replaced because the ground is frozen. Reduce damage by applying anti-desiccant spray (WILT STOP) to tops and bottoms of exposed leaves once in late November or December and once again in late January or early February when the air temperature is above 40F. Also, erect burlap wind barriers on northern and western exposures of these plants.
Winter Protection Against Deer in the Winter (and Other Seasons Too) – I love deer. They’re beautiful, graceful and loveable. But they’re also overly plentiful and hungry all year long. They’re everywhere, and particularly in the winter when their normal, woodland sources of food are not available to them, they become bolder and can devastate many of our shrubs and trees if not discouraged. We recommend regular applications of deer repellent sprays and/or granules to all vulnerable plants. Most repellents list the number of days they last “up to”. This is the manufacturers estimate. Many things affect the timeframe these products should be reapplied. Rain is the main factor. It is best to err on the side of earlier rather than later, as it is more difficult to attain control if active feeding has started. Lawn Depot has a large selection of various types of deer repellent to choose from, and we’ve also got repellents for other pests. Come in and browse.
Bird Food, Feeders, and Related Items – Lawn Depot has the complete line of products to attract songbirds, repel squirrels, and allow the birds to feed all winter, the time when they don’t have access to their natural food supply. We have feeders, poles, baffles, houses, and a wide variety of bird food mixes and straight products. Whether it’s for a gift or for your own enjoyment, come in and look at the line of excellent birding products we offer. We are open all winter Monday – Friday, so you can restock as needed.
Again, this is our last Newsletter of 2017. We thank all of you who have made this business of ours so enjoyable for us for so many years. You’re the best customer base anywhere and we appreciate you greatly. All of us wish all of you a very happy and healthy upcoming holiday season, and we look forward to seeing all of you again, both soon and often.