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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall is for loving your lawn


The calendar may still say summer. But in Colorado, the thermometer is already saying fall-ish.

We've noticed daily highs getting cooler and the daylight hours getting shorter. But did you notice the much cooler nights?

Right now, average night-time low temps are more than 10 degrees cooler than they were on August 1st. Cooler night-time lows mean fall is in the air and especially so, for the lawn. Cooler nights combined with fewer hours of daylight slows lawn growth considerably. And that means it's really time to crank down the water and soon, slow down the mowing.

Grass in fall mode needs less water and less mowing the closer we get to the official start date of fall in just a couple weeks.

Even with the grass slowing down, you still need to love your lawn a little longer this growing season with a bit more TLC. Do these fall lawn activities and you will build a hardier lawn for the winter and see a stronger come-back next spring.
  • Apply a final application of fertilizer timed around the first day of fall, September 23rd. Using the same fertilizer you used earlier this season is fine. But if you need to buy more, look for a formulation high in Nitrogen and Potassium because these minerals are good for the roots.
  • Core aerate the lawn before winterizing the sprinkler system. Aeration pulls plugs of soil and sod out of the lawn and these holes open up the soil so that the roots can take in maximum moisture during the winter.
  • Zap turf weeds. Here's your last chance for this year to get after turf weeds. Giving one last round of control will really pay off next spring in terms of fewer weeds at the start of the season.
  • Get expert help if you have had fungus or other turf disease or insect problems this summer.
Cultural practices like fertilization and aeration go a long way to reduce disease. But it's still a good idea to get problems properly diagnosed so you know what to do now and maybe next spring to get problems under control for good.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Get out the pruners and shape up some plants!


Long Handled Pruners
Hand Pruners are the basic pruning tool


By Labor Day, the flowers are taking care of themselves and the veggies only need picking, so most gardeners can easily turn their attention to pruning their trees and shrubs. Late summer pruning is very good for deciduous trees, especially. You can remove unneeded foliage that can overload with snow and break branches when those early snowstorms come before the leaves have dropped.

Make sure you have the right tools for the job:

  • Hand pruners are the basic pruning tool. Use pruners to cut branches up to 1 inch in diameter.
  • Long-handled pruners cut branches up to a 2 to 2 ½ inch diameter.
  • A hand saw can cut larger branches, but use it standing on the ground.
  • A pole pruner or pole saw will extend your reach high into the tree. Again, use it while standing on the ground.
  • Got a ladder? Leave it in the garage. If you need a ladder to prune, you need to call a tree specialist because he will have the right equipment for the job.
What can you prune in the fall? Basically most shrubs and deciduous trees that need to be lightened to avoid early storm damage or that have overgrown the available space.

Are there plants you shouldn't prune now? Spring-flowering plants like lilac and forsythia have already set the buds that will be next spring's flowers. So if you prune them now, you will lose those spring blooms. Prune flowering plants next spring after they have bloomed. Ornamental grasses should also be left in place for winter interest.

Tips to make the best cut:

  • Avoid what's called a flush cut that severs the branch right next to the trunk of the tree. Look for the tree branch collar where the branch joins the tree and cut outside that collar.
  • Never cut the main leader of a tree unless it is damaged.
  • Don't chop off a branch half-way between the trunk and the tip of the branch. Either cut the whole branch off or thin it by removing secondary branches.
  • Leave the pruning wounds open and natural. The tree knows what to do to seal off the cut and covering the wound with paint or tar is neither necessary nor helpful to the tree.
  • If large branches need to be pruned or if you're not sure how to prune for the proper shape, call a professional arborist who has been trained to prune both for the plant's health and its good looks.
 
Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC