As Temperatures Fall
Lack of rain and the hot temperatures that accompany the summer months can reap havoc on your once lush facilities landscape. As we approach the fall season, lower temperatures are always a welcomed relief from the summer’s scorching heat. Warm season grasses will tolerate hot, dry conditions for a longer period of time than cool season grasses. If the summer weather has dried out your lawn it may require special attention such as resodding or reseeding. Ornamental trees and shrubs will also be affected by lack of rainfall. Some signs of drought conditions are leaf scorch, early fall color, partial or complete defoliation, or complete browning of the foliage (which indicates a dead or dormant specimen). Drought effects are not always evident right away, in some cases drought injury shows their sign 1 to 2 years later as the plant slowly declines. Newly planted trees and shrubs that have not yet developed an extensive root system will be affected the most.
Plant, Plant and Plant
Fall is the ideal time to plant ornamental trees and shrubs. The combination of cooler temperatures and warm soil create ideal conditions for plant establishment. Trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs are best planted this time of year. To get a head start, develop a landscape plan, or work with a professional to create one for you. Take advantage of the fall weather to enhance or renovate your landscape and add appeal to your businesses exterior.
Autumn marks the onset of brilliant fall colors and with that change, several tasks that need to be completed. Maintaining your turf areas free of fallen leaves and debris is very important in insuring the health and vigor of your turf areas. Mulching mowers are in vogue as environmentally sound and adequate for your leaf clearing needs. However, continued use of these mower types leads to thatch build up and soil compaction that will inevitably increase your costs through added dethatching and core aeration. Leaves should always be collected and removed from all turf and bed areas. Leaves that are left in planting beds can lead to a significant number of problems such as disease and insect infestations, as well as, soil born fungus that can very difficult to eradicate.
Fall is also the best time of year to prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Absence of leaves allows the technician to prune in accordance with horticulturally accepted practices because they can better see budding, nodules, and overall plant shape. Additionally, pruning once the leaves have fallen will encourage a strong and healthy bud set the following season. One note of caution however: it is essential to time your pruning for the type of plant species you intend to prune. If you prune many shrubs too early, they will set new growth which can then be subject to frost damage and stunting. Remove branches that cross and rub against each other and trim shrubs that have grown too tall back to a more manageable height. Some shrubs need to be periodically thinned to keep them healthy and growing. Diseased branches are easier to spot and remove when you periodically thin out your landscapes shrubs. Weekly maintenance of your trees and shrubs keeps your landscape healthy and more appealing.
Proper irrigation is an important factor in keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful. Water is a necessary component in the growth of your landscape. Over watering your landscapes plants is just as damaging as under watering. Here are some tips to help you in the proper irrigation of you facilities landscape.
- Regularly water your lawn for short durations, such as 15 minutes in the morning.
- Do not water on windy days; water will drift away from its desired location.
- Water during the morning hours, never after 9 AM. Temperatures are cooler at this time of day and much less is lost to evaporation.
- Help conserve water by adjusting your sprinklers to prevent misting.
- Add mulch to your soil to help retain moisture and reduce the need for frequent watering.
Plan Ahead for a Colorful Landscape
Add color to your landscape by planting daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. These are spring flowers that need to be planted during the fall season. Mass planting, packing bulbs into an area so each bulb is only several inches from the next, has the most striking visual effect on a landscape. The larger the area you pack bulbs into, the more spectacular the display. After the bulbs are buried you may plant pansies or some other winter hardy flowering annual over top of them being careful not to disturb the bulbs. The flowering bulbs will emerge through the annuals for twice the color display. In southern climates, a more immediate impact can be made using fall annuals that will persist and bloom throughout the winter. The most commonly used fall annuals include Mums, Pansies, and Ornamental Cabbage.
Fall Season Tips and Tricks
- Plant in early fall for best results.
- Don’t retire the lawn mower when the growth of your lawn slows down this fall. As long as the grass continues to grow, it should be mowed.
- Don’t allow leaves to accumulate on the lawn or in planting beds. Rake them up regularly, and store in a pile for use as mulch in your garden next summer. If leaves accumulate on your lawn and become matted down by rain, they may kill the grass.
- Fall is usually cool and moist and a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Research has shown that roots will continue to grow until the soil freezes.
- Lawns should be fertilized in late September or early October. Consult your local ESM Company for the most recent recommendations.
Ready to Evaluate Your Exterior Maintenance Services?
If your retail stores or facilities are struggling with curb appeal, quality assurance issues, or simply have trouble completing landscaping specifications for national formats, you might want to consider calling a national ESM Company. A management program could improve your current landscaping and customer appeal, reduce your overall expenses, eliminate the worries of liability and provide fluid service to the exteriors of all your facilities and stores.