Early Fall Hours:
OCTOBER 2017 LAWN DEPOT NEWSLETTER
Okay everybody, it’s official: with the exception of all things lawn, the magnificent 2017 growing season has come to an end. Leaves turning and dropping in profusion tells us that trees, shrubs and other landscape plants are now dormant until next spring. You can now proceed with all winter dormancy activities in your yards, such as feeding trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs, cutting back perennials to the ground (if you’ve chosen to do this job in the fall rather than in the early spring), pruning shrubs, and winterizing broadleaf evergreens, etc. Lawns still have another 2+ months more of growth, so don’t consider putting mowers, blowers, or rakes away yet. Between now and when the ground freezes solid in mid-December or so, there’s plenty of work to do on your lawns, to ensure that next spring they’ll be thick, lush and weed free. There are a few lawn maintenance activities that can no longer be done this year because of the changing season, but there are still many that can/should be done. Below, we’ll look at the things we still recommend for the remainder of 2017 with your lawns, as well as which activities will have to wait until next year.
Lawn Depot Turf Management is now finishing up their last “early fall” jobs of weed control and early fall fertilization, while at the same time tending to their scheduled fall core aeration and seeding jobs. We’ve been thrilled that so many of you have signed up for fall aeration and seeding. It shows us that you read these Newsletters and follow our recommendations. It also means that you’re all serious about wanting the best lawns in your respective neighborhoods, which has always been our primary objective. At this point, we’re no longer able to take on any more seeding, early fall fertilization or weed control jobs for this fall. Any of these jobs that are already on the books will be done shortly, but the only additional work we’re able to accept for this fall will be late fall core aeration, Winterfeast fertilization, and liming. And, of course, if you’re interested in using our Turf Management services for 2018, we’ll be happy to come out to your home, evaluate and measure your property, and give you a proposal for next season right after the New Year. Please call us at 215-348-5553, or find us on the internet at www.lawndepotinc.com. We’ll be out within a few days, and email you (or mail, if you prefer) an estimate for the services you request.
The Lawn Depot Garden Center is still fully stocked: inside with all the professional lawn and garden products, tools, and control products you’ll need, and outside, in the nursery yard with plenty of beautiful and healthy perennials, ornamental shrubs and late-blooming mums, as well as all of the soils, mulches and amendments that make your landscape thrive. And, as always, we’ve got friendly and informed staff to answer all your questions, help solve all your lawn and gardening problems, and give you ideas that will help you accomplish your goals. In the Nursery yard, we’ll be having regular sales incentives from now until the end of the fall planting season on many of our perennials and shrubs in order to reduce our inventory before winter arrives. These beautiful plants are still healthy and ready for immediate planting in your beds, where they’ll enhance your landscapes next spring. The Garden Center is open every day, M-F 8-6, Sat. 8-5, Sun 9-3, until we enter Eastern Standard Time, November 5, when we’ll close at 5 Monday-Saturday. Sunday’s hours will remain the same.
There’s still a lot of work to do in the yard before closing down for the winter. We hope you’re all still enthusiastic to finish the job right. It has been a truly terrific growing season, and there’s still plenty of time to enjoy it, and plenty of work to do before it ends. As always, we’re ready to help you accomplish all of your objectives, and looking forward to seeing all of you.
LAWNS IN OCTOBER
Seeding Lawns in October – As of the delivery of this Newsletter (early October) we’ve still got 8-10 weeks left in the turf growing season for cool weather grasses, which include all of the varieties sold or used at The Lawn Depot. The primary grass seed cultivars we sell are hybrid perennial ryegrasses and turf-type tall fescues. The ryegrasses are the fastest to germinate (7-10 days in ideal conditions), the tall fescues next (10-14 days in ideal conditions), and bluegrasses and fine fescues 21 days or longer. As soil temperatures cool, germination times get longer until, after early November, seed has little or no chance of germinating and establishing that growing season. We’re now in the period that is less than ideal, but still possible. If you seed now, use seed blends that have more perennial ryegrasses (Evergreen Mix, Survivor 2 Mix), and keep the seed watered regularly through germination. If you’re seeding into existing lawn areas, simply trying to thicken tired or damaged turf and you water regularly you don’t NEED to cover the areas with tack straw or PENN MULCH to help speed germination, but you can. On the other hand, if you’re seeding bare or nearly bare areas, you are strongly advised to spread the tack straw or PENN MULCH over the entire seeded areas. And remember, the deeper we go into the fall, the slower the germination will be, and the more you’ll have to deal with other deterrents such as leaves, so get at it soon.
Broadleaf Weed Control with TRIMEC Liquid Herbicide in October – I’d love to think that I’m not talking to many of you with this paragraph because you’ve all already made your fall TRIMEC application this year. But, since I don’t live in a fairy-tale world, I’ll simply say that this paragraph is addressed to those of you who haven’t yet gotten around to killing your broadleaf weeds this fall. With the regular rainfall all summer long, ALL LAWNS HAVE WEEDS IN THEM THIS FALL. Whether you had a weed-free, thick lawn or a sparse, newish lawn in the spring, you have weeds in the lawn now. Dandelions, clover, plantain, and the myriad other perennial weeds all go to seed. If you don’t take them out while they’re still actively growing this fall, they’ll be marring your lawns next spring. At this point some of the warm season weeds, like clover, wild strawberries, oxalis, and hawkweed have already gone dormant and cannot be killed, but lots of our most annoying weeds, like dandelions, plantains, ground ivy, and even wild violets are still actively growing and thus, can be controlled. Either treat the whole lawn with liquid TRIMEC, or at least walk the whole lawn with a tank sprayer and spot spray weeds when you see them.
Fertilizing Lawns in October – We strongly recommend that lawns be fertilized twice in the fall: September/mid-October, to restore vigor from a stressful summer, and November/December with WINTERFEAST TURF FOOD for strong crown and root development and faster spring greening. Remember that since fall is the perfect time for growing grass, it’s worthwhile to load up on the fall feedings.
Liming and Core Aerating Lawns in October – As I’ve been saying for many years, there’s no BAD time to lime lawns if there’s no snow on the lawn. Lime neutralizes soil acidity (which is a natural occurrence in our SE PA soils) and should be done annually to maximize the benefit of fertilizers. Plant nutrients become chemically bound in acidic clay soils, slowing their availability to feed the grass plants. Lime should be applied at the rate of 15 lbs./1,000 sq. ft. if done annually, or at the rate of 50 lbs./1,000 sq. ft. if it hasn’t been done recently. Core aeration opens up the heavy soil to permit moisture and nutrients to get deeper into the root zones of the grass plants, and also loosens the soil so roots will go deeper, thus enhancing the health of the lawn. As we’ve mentioned often, if you’re interested in either of these treatments but lack the ability or time to do the job(s) yourself, give us a call and we’ll quote you a price for our Turf Management group to do the job right for you.
Mowing and Leaf Removal in October and November – As the nighttime temperatures regularly drop into the 50s and then 40s, the top growth of lawns will slow significantly, but the crown and root growth will increase just as significantly. This is what we’re experiencing now, and this is why fall is the best time of the year for starting, improving, and restoring lawns. As the top growth slows, we should reduce the frequency of mowing the lawns, but until top growth has ceased entirely, keep mowing. Mow once a week, then every 10 days, and ultimately, in November every 2 weeks, but keep mowing until beyond Thanksgiving, when the ground cools sufficiently that top growth ceases altogether, and only the roots continue to grow until the ground freezes solid. During this period of reduced mowing frequency, it is our recommendation that you set mower decks to around 3” or so. And for the sake of the lawn’s overall appearance and health, make absolutely sure that when the grass goes dormant in December, it is leaf-free, well fed (WINTERFEAST), and recently mown.
Now that the leaves have begun to fall profusely, it is absolutely critical to the health of your lawn that they are not allowed to accumulate on the lawn. It makes no difference whether you rake them, vacuum them, blow them or chop them while mowing; JUST DO NOT LET THEM ACCUMULATE ON THE LAWN. Leaves smother grass; and once fallen leaves have been rained on, they’re much harder to get up without damaging the grass. For those of you who don’t enjoy doing it or can’t do it yourselves, you may have to mow more frequently to keep the falling leaves under control, but at least you’ll not be letting the leaves damage the lawn. And, as mentioned above, at the end of the season, do one more leaf-removal exercise, so that the lawn is leaf-free when the ground freezes. It’ll look better over the winter, it’ll green up faster in the spring, and it’ll be healthier when the new season arrives next year.
LANDSCAPES IN OCTOBER
Dormant feeding of Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, and Bulbs – Now that the 2017 growing season has come to an end, it’s safe to feed all dormant landscape plants safely and not worry about stimulating immediate growth. With trees of less than 4-5” caliper (trunk diameter 3’ above the ground) and shrubs (evergreen or deciduous) 6 ft. tall or more, we prefer formed fertilizer spikes, driven 12-15” into the ground at the plants’ driplines, and using 3 spikes per 2” of diameter. For smaller shrubs, perennials, and bulbs, use granular fertilizers, applied liberally around the plants or over the roots of the plants, then scratched into the top layer of mulch or earth and watered thoroughly. Feed liberally; there’s no danger of overfeeding and the plants will benefit next spring.
Cutting Back Perennials to the Ground – Perennials are finished for the year. This year’s growth can either be removed now or early next spring before the new growth starts. Whichever way you do it, remember to DO IT before growth starts or the job will be harder to do and the plants won’t look their best.
Planting Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials in October – Now that the plants are dormant, you are safe to dig trees and/or shrubs, divide perennials, or plant anything you may find to your liking in Nurseries and Garden Centers. It is best to NOT FERTILIZE any plants that you’re planting until next spring. If they’re truly dormant the fertilizer will just sit there, but if there are any roots that haven’t gotten the message that dormancy has arrived you may stimulate growth, and this would not be desirable in that the new growth wouldn’t have a chance to harden off and the winter would damage it. Just wait until next spring before feeding all new plantings with a slow-release granular fertilizer.
Protect Vulnerable Shrubs with Deer Repellent – Deer can decimate arborvitae, azaleas, hollies, and many other broad-leafed evergreens while the ground is frozen and food is hard for them to find. Start applying products NOW to deter them from your valuable trees and shrubs. We have several repellent options (Deer Stopper, Liquid Fence and Deer Scram), which have various styles of application and longevity. Stop by to discuss your particular situation with our knowledgeable staff in order to determine the best course of action for you.
Birding – Bird watching is the nation’s second most popular pastime, right behind gardening. As natural food sources start to diminish, you can lend our feathered friends a helping hand by providing them a reliable food source. Once they find a continuous source of food they’ll set up camp in close proximity. The Lawn Depot carries a great selection of birdseed, feeders and accessories, including many squirrel deterrent feeders. Our helpful staff can assist you in selecting the feeder(s) and birdfeed that is just right for your yard!
October is always a paradoxical month for me; I love the colors of fall, from the turning leaves to the beautiful colors of mums and asters in the gardens, but I am continually bothered by the reminder that another growing season is coming to an end. And, as a businessman in the turf industry for so many years, I’ve always been afraid that some of our customers will lose interest in their lawns (particularly) and gardens too soon. There’s still a lot of good work to do, and the benefits of doing the job all the way to the end are tremendous. We hope all of you agree with this philosophy, and we hope also that you’ll come in and see us several more times before calling it quits for the year. We look forward to seeing you, as always.