Gardening Basics

How To Prepare Your Lawn and Garden For Fall

Gardening expert Paul James offers advice on fertilizing, seeding and planting.

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Container Garden Lettuce

As fall weather takes hold, you need to change your gardening practices to get your landscape ready for the season ahead. But when do you start? And what should you do? Gardening by the Yard host Paul James offers advice on the intricacies of preparing for autumn:

His first bit of advice: Start your work about six weeks before the first hard freeze.

Preparing the lawn. This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye; it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive.

It's also the right time to fertilize turfgrasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turfgrasses can store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

This six-week window is also the perfect time to put down a second application of selective, pre-emergent herbicide.

The first application — which lawn enthusiasts usually apply in late winter to early spring — takes care of weed seeds that overwintered in the lawn. The second application deals with weed seeds that were deposited during the summer months. (You can buy all-natural pre-emergent herbicides made from corn gluten.)

At the end of the year, you can also make an application of post-emergent herbicide, or you can spot-treat weeds with a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate. For spot treatments, you can also use an all-natural formulation such as horticultural vinegar or clove oil.

Caution: Know the difference between selective and nonselective herbicides. Selective herbicides target specific weeds or seeds without damaging turf grass or landscape plants in the process. Nonselective herbicides destroy anything and everything green.

 

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