The weather in the Treasure Valley has been an exercise in extremes this summer, giving us both heat and drought and unseasonably chilly temperatures and rain. These temperature extremes and conditions can really do a number on your lawn and garden, but as the seasons change, how do you prepare for what’s to come?
Preparing your lawn and garden for fall and winter conditions is a great way to improve your chances of having a great spring and summer next year, so here are some tips to help your grass and gardening area fall dormant gracefully.
Before the first frost of the season (and we all know that can vary in the Treasure Valley!) it’s a great idea to aerate your lawn every 3-4 years, add sulfur and compost, and fertilize it optimally with a fertilizer that is formulated for just such a purpose, but be prepared to mow a lot next year! If you aren’t sure about which fertilizer to pick we can help.
Aerating your lawn supports your grass by getting air and nutrients to the roots, and helps undo any compaction that’s gone on during the summer months. This is especially important in high-traffic areas to keep your grass resilient and healthy. And fertilizing after aeration helps your lawn soak up the good stuff it needs so that it can bounce back quicker (and less susceptible to bugs and weeds) next spring!
If your lawn picks up a lot of fall leaves, there are a couple of routes your can take to protect and nourish your lawn. You can either mulch the leaves with your lawnmower and let nature take its course, or you can rake them up and remove them. Leaving too thick of a layer of mulched or wet leaves (or even worse, in piles!) can lead to disease, or even suffocate your lawn, so make sure not to neglect this important part of fall and winter lawn care.
Your lawn’s defenses are down during the winter, whether it’s frozen or damp. Treading lightly on your lawn will protect it while it’s dormant, and prevent more time-consuming care during the spring and summer. Bare patches, disease, and weeds are easier to prevent than to fix, so tread lightly.
First things first tend to your vegetables! They can handle a little frost, but it can also be a killer for tender-skinned veges. However, some can winter just fine, and garlic is best planted in the fall for next year’s crops. Keeping an eye on the forecast and knowing what you have growing can prevent disappointment and ruined crops.
While it might seem tempting to just let your garden bed fall to the weeds after you’ve salvaged the last of the vegetables, this can create a rocky start next spring. Make sure to remove all the weeds, and at least some of the dead vegetation to prevent any diseases from remaining over the winter. You can leave a little if you like, as it makes great homes for beneficial insects. It’s also a good idea to apply mulch or compost to your garden soil, or any other amendments that you’ve chosen. If you aren’t sure what you should add, we can help you with that too!
However, keep in mind that adding too much mulch or compost can be a bad idea, as it may insulate the ground too much and create a biome you don’t want growing in your garden! You want to nurture and fortify your garden soil this fall so that it’s healthy and ready to support whatever you have planned for a bountiful summer.
Our springs can feel like they are coming in on in February sometimes in the Treasure Valley, but don’t be tempted to rake up mulch or pull up remaining plants too soon! In fact, it’s a good idea not to upset any mulch, grass clippings, or remaining plant stalks until you are ready to plant again because there are a variety of helpful organisms and bugs that won’t be able to do their job if they are disrupted at the wrong time.
START PLANNING FOR NEXT YEAR
One of the benefits of living in the Treasure Valley is that we enjoy relatively mild winters; this means that you don’t need to wait until spring to start working on next year’s landscaping. Adding a raised bed or two? A greenhouse? More trellises or perennials? There is a lot you can do during the fall and winter months to get ready for the next-best summer ever, so let your imagination and dreams run wild (and we have the know-how to help you make them come true)!
We hope that this helps you to put your grass and garden to bed peacefully in preparation for a great start next year.
Questions or looking for the perfect fertilizer or fall bulbs to plant? Come into the nursery!