Fall Lawn & Garden Project Q & A

Q. Is fall a good time to fertilize the lawn?
A. Fall is an excellent time to fertilize all grasses; it’s the best time to fertilize Bermuda, buffalo, centipede or zoysia grasses, provided they are still green. Turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates. By fertilizing in the fall, you allow the grass to build its carbohydrate reserves before it goes dormant. It then uses those reserves to get off to a good start in the spring. Use a slow-release fertilizer four to six weeks before the grass goes dormant and again in mid-to late-spring.

Q. What are the proper tools for fall lawn seeding?
A. Optimally, seeding in early September will allow the grasses to develop a root system and sufficient top growth to survive the winter, and provide for vigorous growth thefollowing spring before the hot summer weather arrives. Seeding can be done by hand, with a broadcast or drop spreader, or mechanically with a hydroseeder or slice seeder. When using a broadcast or drop spreader, divide the seed into two lots and seed the lawn area at right angles. This will more uniformly distribute the seed that may have been missed if applied in only one direction. Slice seeding is a great method of planting grass seed. The slice seeder has knives that cut through the thatch of the existing soil and literally slice the seed into these cuts, which in return plant the seed into the soil increasing the germination potential.

Q. Can perennials growing in containers be transplanted to flower gardens in the fall?
A. Assuming the plants are hardy in your area, yes. Remove the plant from its container, score the roots with a sharp knife to prevent girdling and to encourage new growth, place the plant in a hole roughly the size of the container, cover with soil, and water. In areas with mild but freezing winters, you can cover the potted plants with a layer of mulch up to the tops of the containers. When the foliage dies back, pile some more mulch three to four inches above the tops of the containers, and water occasionally. When spring comes, you can remove the mulch and put the plants back on your patio.

Q. Is fall a good time to plant trees?
A. Fall and winter are the best times to plant trees, providing the ground hasn’t frozen so hard that you cannot dig a proper hole. Planting at this time of the year allows the roots to establish before the really cold weather arrives. Trees and shrubs planted in fall are less likely to suffer from transplant shock and they’re given a head-start benefit of the springtime establishment period over plants installed in spring. Typically, plant survival is optimized when certain varieties of deciduous trees and shrubs and planted during dormancy. These plants will have the benefit of putting out new roots at the first chance in spring and even during the winter, should the ground temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant as you normally would and don’t forget to water.

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