Fall Landscaping in Lincoln, NE – 2018
Here we are, on the brink of fall. Before we know it, the leaves will all have changed colors and we’ll be knee-deep in Husker football season. And with the weather being so unpredictable in the Midwest, there’s really no telling how long the transition will be from fall to winter. It might sound like we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but when it comes to yard maintenance, it’s important to be proactive.
If you are the caretaker for any type of property, whether it’s your home or business, what outdoor projects do you need to complete before the first freeze? There are a number of tasks related to lawn care, landscaping, and general exterior upkeep to keep in mind.
“Fall is the best time of year for planting trees and shrubs,” Jessica Jasnoch with Earl May Seed & Nursery tells us. “The cool nights and warm days help push plants to get their roots established before winter. Fall is also a great time to over seed or fill in sparse areas in the lawn.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how much should I water? This is a great question. Trees that have been planted in the last couple years should receive approximately 15 gallons of water every week. Continue watering trees and newly planted shrubs and grasses into November. This is very important, because if they are allowed to dry out during cold weather, they will be susceptible to winter burn and may not recover in the Spring.
Lee Schumacher with TDK Lawn Care knows a thing or two about best fertilizing practices as well. According to Lee, September is the best time of year to attack weeds and promote root growth. The cooler temperatures and frequent rainfall are ideal growing conditions for grass. Therefore, an application of fertilizer without herbicide is key to your lawn’s health. Fall is also a great time to fertilize shrubs and trees. Most trees and bushes are planted in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose, so fertilizing can compensate for this deficiency. In addition, since we rake leaves off these beds in the fall, plants get deprived of the nutrients that decomposing leaves would normally release. We’re told that it’s best to fertilizer 2-3 weeks before the ground freezes. The optimal application time is in the morning or late evening, avoiding high mid-day temperatures. Also, be sure to check the forecast for rain. If you fertilize before a storm, you risk the chance for runoff which will void your efforts. Once you’ve confirmed the grass is dry and the forecast doesn’t call for heavy rainfall, mow the lawn to allow for a clean slate for fertilizing. We definitely recommend calling TDK Lawn Care for a free lawn analysis and more helpful tips on how to fertilize your yard.
Going back to watering during the fall, Jeremy Hunt with Hunt Irrigation offers specific information on anything you’d need to know regarding your irrigation system and schedule. He also offers some additional insight on general landscaping tasks to perform while the weather allows.
“Fall is a great time to add or revise your landscaping,” says Hunt. “When doing so, it is important to remember that major bed renovations will also require adapting your irrigation system. Sprinkler heads that are trapped inside new or existing landscapes will reduce the coverage of turf areas, causing stress to the turf and even overwatering some plant material. (Fall is also a great time to have your irrigation system audited, which is something you should do at least every two years.)
While you are updating or adding landscape beds, particularly those that border the foundation, consider irrigating them with drip irrigation. When properly installed, drip irrigation can enhance the plants’ health and ensure that your landscaping will thrive for years to come. Drip uses approximately 50% less water than aerial delivery systems, it is more precise, more controllable, and requires less weeding of landscape areas. With the drier weather Eastern Nebraska has been experiencing it is also a great way to keep the soil moist around the foundation of your home to assist in preventing foundation shift.
One of the most important things to keep in mind in regards to your underground irrigation system as fall draws near is the winterization process. Whether you choose to use the gravity drain method or blow the system out with pressurized air you want to make sure you or your irrigation professional winterize the system correctly. An improper winterization can lead to expensive repairs in the spring. While it is not required on most residential systems, winterizing with pressurized air is the only way to ensure all the water has been evacuated from your system. If you blow-out your own irrigation system make sure to never exceed 70 psi.”
Aside from irrigation, Hunt highlights a few items that will add both value and aesthetic value to your home and its landscape:
Turf Management – Fall is a great time to plant just about anything. From a turf management perspective, fall is a great time for aeration and over-seeding. The best seed window is from September 15 to October 15.
Plant Fruit Trees – Fruit trees should be planted in the fall or very early spring. Planting fruit trees for a fall landscaping project will be rewarding for years to come.
Outdoor Lighting – As the days becoming shorter, now is a good time to look at installing an outdoor lighting system. When you spend time outdoors with family and friends, you’ll need adequate outdoor lighting to illuminate your landscape areas, not to mention it adds to the security of your home.
As Tom Scharfen with Eagle Nursery will tell you, though, fall isn’t just the perfect time to plant fruit trees—it’s the perfect time of year to plant any type of tree! “Particularly when it comes to ‘spaded trees,’ or the transplanting of larger trees that are already fairly well established, fall is the best time of year by far,” advises Tom. “An advantage to installing a larger tree into your landscape is that you have instant curb appeal and shade as opposed to it taking years to get to that point. Right now we have a great selection of spaded shade trees and we’re running our fall special on these again. Come out to the nursery (appointment only) and choose your tree(s). We’ll then come out to your house and find the best spot in the yard, flag it out, and get it installed.”
If you’re going to look at outdoor lighting, we know a guy. “There are so many ways to utilize lighting other than to guide a walkway or guard the front door,” says David Hastreiter with Pro-Scapes Landscape Development & Maintenance. “All the various forms of lighting can be used to accent your home in ways that you never thought possible. We find that many people are concerned with cost or damage, but we’ll work with your budget and the installation typically won’t tear up the yard either. I believe that LEDs are best choice for outdoor lighting. Benefits of using LEDs include:
- They last longer (some can last over 25 years!)
- They save energy
- They are manufactured to handle harsh weather conditions
- They are brighter allowing for optimal safety and visual effect
I also operate Festive Expressions, a holiday lighting, and decor business, so I can also take care of the outdoor design and installation, pro-active service, and take-down and storage of indoor/outdoor lighting for residential and commercial properties. I actually recently attended a conference in Baltimore, Maryland to learn about some new exciting trends emerging in the outdoor lighting and decor industry. My goal is to be able to provide people with a wide range of services and take care of all their outdoor needs. From development and maintenance, to decorating your home or business during the holiday months. It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas lights, right?”
“Are we really talking about winter and Christmas already?” Chuckled Ken Svoboda with Ray’s Lawn & Landscape. “Yes, we are, because this is the time to start preparing your landscape for winter.
Don’t stress, it can be as simple as a little maintenance if you know what you’re doing. First, inspect your landscape plant material for broken or dead branches and remove them. You should also examine your shrubbery and ornamental trees for long, out-of-control branches and remove them. These long stragglers, as I call them, have a tendency to catch and hold on to wet heavy snow and ice and break under the weight. I also recommend monitoring your landscape, making sure to keep wet, heavy leaves from accumulating and smothering small plants and groundcovers. Finally, as your perennials go dormant and lose their color (turn yellow), they should be cut to the crown of the plant, which better prepares them for their spring arrival next year.”
As for those who still have a project they’d ideally like to get done yet this year, Svoboda advises, “If you’re serious about your project, let’s get started immediately. I really want to encourage everyone to look ahead to next spring and summer. If you have a high school senior and you’re considering an outdoor graduation party next spring, please consider a landscape renovation or a freshen up service this fall. All too often we get calls in late April asking for a proposal to prepare the backyard for a party. By that time, it’s nearly too late for anything more than simply trimming a few shrubs and spreading mulch. The same holds true for upcoming weddings, engagement events, birthday parties and any other special events planned for outdoors next year.”
Your outdoor living space can also be enhanced with an outdoor fireplace, a decorative pond, colorful boulders, or pottery and outdoor art! All these things and much more can be found at Outdoor Solutions, located near Saltillo Rd. and 14th St. Through October 31, Outdoor Solutions is open on Saturdays as well as extended weekday hours, so you’ll have convenient access to everything they have to offer.
Ben Klingemann with Hotsy Equipment Co. also adds a few things to the list of tasks you’ll want to consider performing soon. “When cleaning exterior surfaces such as concrete or stone, using a pressure washer is be a safe and environmentally-friendly option that really gets the job done well. As a result, it enhances the appearance of any property, residential or commercial. Hotsy manufactures hot-water pressure washers that not only have the power to easily remove moss or mildew from stone exteriors and sidewalks, but the heat kills the overgrowth without the need for harsh chemicals. For larger surface area jobs, additional accessories such as a surface cleaner attachment can be added to a pressure washer to clean up to a 24” diameter in a single pass.”
As Klingemann specifically points out, “It’s amazing how much an area can be transformed just by cleaning with hot, pressurized water. Cutting through years of buildup and revealing the original stone, concrete, or brickwork can quickly and effectively revitalize a building – so much so that many landscaping companies are now offering pressure washing as a service to many of the clients whose properties they regularly maintain. A handful of landscaping companies have invested in trailer-mounted systems, custom built by the team at Hotsy. These landscapers are able to roll up to a job and get to work with everything they need to clean, often breathing new life into building facades.”
More specific to commercial buildings, he notes, “If more drastic measures are necessary to clean up a building prior to a landscaping overhaul, graffiti removal may be called for at some point. With a powerful, industry-proven formula, Hotsy’s Fat Cap Graffiti Remover is a safe and effective way to clean up concrete or metalwork.”
1776 Grounds Maintenance also offers services specific to commercial properties. From weed control to snow removal, they have the equipment to do each job very well. Plus, they’ve been in business for 17 years, so they have the experience. The team at 1776 Grounds Maintenance is passionate about partnering with businesses to provide them with the grounds care they need, and are known for being dependable and courteous. It’s always nice to work with people you can trust.
The season is changing folks! That means your lawn care behaviors need to change too. Luckily we have a lot of local experts who can help you with all your fall landscaping needs. So, start making calls. Don’t let your list of projects pile up with the autumn leaves… they aren’t as fun to jump into.