We’ve come to the time of year where fall weather is upon us, and as far as our yards and properties are concerned, this means tackling all of the items that should be done before winter weather sets in. When it comes to fall landscaping, it’s not only about preparation before the first freeze but also about preparing for the coming spring too. Whether you’re skilled at fall landscaping our need to brush up on what should be done yet this month, we’ve included some helpful tips and information from the local experts to get you started and keep you on the right track!
“Fall is actually one of the best times of the year to work on landscape projects,” explains Brent Van Winkle of Outdoor Solutions (outdoorsolutions-lincoln.com). “Many people welcome the cooler weather with open arms. It gives them a chance to work outside without sweating too much. This is the ideal time for trimming back many of the plants around your home. As many of them aren’t currently blooming, trimming now will allow the buds not to be sheared and ensure flowers in the spring. Furthermore, putting a nice thick layer of mulch down at this time of year holds the moisture in the ground and protects plants from winter kill.
Some of the newest trends of the year to incorporate this fall are fireplaces and brick ovens. People are starting to figure out that they can build outdoor rooms with pavers, wall block and other components. Entertaining people outside goes hand in hand with these outdoor rooms and so fireplaces, fire pits and brick ovens are the perfect additions to add that fire element to the backyard. Fire adds an ambient feeling that everyone can enjoy. Whether you are serving up wood-fired pizzas for the big game or having a glass of wine in front of the fireplace, fire is the latest and greatest addition this year.”
He adds, “People tend to worry that a project they start in the fall won’t be enjoyed until next spring because of the impending snow, however this can actually be a big advantage. Many people call landscape contractors in the spring only to find out that they can’t start until summer or fall. If your project is done in the fall you will be able to enjoy it as soon as warmer temperatures start. Planting in the fall is perfect because the plants can root in before any significantly hot weather comes around.”
Adding square feet to your home by way of outdoor living space enhances its value and your enjoyment of it. There are many ways homeowners can improve or add interest to these areas to make them comfortable and inviting. Many of these involve durable brick, stone and paver products. Yankee Hill Brick offers a wide range of colors, sizes and textures of clay brick and pavers to fit any residential project and all of the company’s products are manufactured with the highest quality standards.
In terms of product selection for your outdoor projects, if you are taking on a do-it-yourself endeavor, make sure to pay careful attention to the materials you choose to invest in. Larry Epp, General Manager of Yankee Hill Brick (yankeehillbrick.com), cautions, “For outdoor living spaces, make sure to choose your materials wisely. Pay attention to the quality and durability of the materials, and if you are in doubt, make sure to ask plenty of questions.
Many times outdoor projects are a work in progress, and the current or following homeowners will likely want to add to them in the future. With products such as stone, brick, or pavers, it can be difficult to find a match later on if the product isn’t commonly used or is a rare find. I highly recommend purchasing materials from an established company so that you will continue to have access to the same items in the future.
While there are tons of options, if you want the best value with the lowest maintenance a paver patio is the way to go. By using pavers, you will save money and time by not having to stain and seal it year after year. Our products withstand the test of time and the elements, looking beautiful year after year with very minimal upkeep or repair, if any at all. There are so many ways that brick and paver products can be incorporated into the landscaping and hardscaping of a home that the hardest part of the process is deciding exactly what you want!”
In fact, many trends for landscaping this year have been focused on new ways to improve outdoor living areas. Bill Budler, owner of Nebraska Outdoor Living Center (www.nebraskaoutdoorliving.com) , adds, “A very popular item the last few years has been the power retractable solar screen. The technology has improved to the point that these ‘screens’ are now being used for much more than just shade. The strength of the fabric and more importantly, the stability of the system, make them more versatile than ever. Many of our clients are now enjoying their covered decks and patios more than ever, even during the colder months by blocking the wind with the SRS screens. With this unique motorized system the screen fabric is captured on all four sides, so when lowered it tames those chilly winds. Some clients have reported that during the cold winter months they turn on their gas fire pit and the screens do a nice job of keeping the warmth inside. Extending the use of the outdoor living area is definitely a growing trend throughout this area, and we can assist you in making your outdoor living area comfortable and enjoyable year-round.”
Another great way to expand and maximize the living space in your home is to add a sunroom. Terri Rediger, owner of Malibu Sunrooms (www.malibusunrooms.com) , explains, “If you have not been in a sunroom, I think it’s impossible to really understand what you are missing. People LOVE their sunroom. It’s everyone’s favorite room in the house. You ‘feel’ like you are outside, but can enjoy the comforts of being inside. When there’s a snowstorm, it is SO COOL being in a sunroom–like living in a snow globe. And really, no matter what the weather is doing, the weather is always great in a Malibu Sunroom!”
Rediger also emphasizes that there are many outdoor projects that should be completed in the fall as this is the optimal time to do so. “Replacing or repairing doors and windows in your house is especially important when facing the harsh winters we get in Nebraska and Iowa. Broken seals, air infiltration and poor weather stripping can affect both your energy bill and your comfort in the winter. Adding ice and water shield to your roof is also a very important aspect of maintaining your home. About six years ago, building codes changed and an ice and water shield are now required on roofs. However, this was not always the case and there are many roofs out there today without this important element. Ice and water shield creates a barrier between your shingles and your roof decking. Without it, ice builds up and pushes itself under the shingles, which then can leak into your house. Ice and water shield is a secondary defense against leaks.”
She adds, “When considering the importance of year round curb appeal, seasonal upkeep is just a part of being a homeowner. When our homes are well cared for, our property values go up. A lot of times, it’s not just for our own property–it’s also for the good of the neighborhood. Curb appeal is always important when it comes to selling and buying homes. When buyers can ‘see’ continued maintenance and care, it strikes a chord that indicates there are no problems or issues with the home. Now, there is upkeep, and then there’s the ‘WOW factor’. Landscaping, beautiful decks or concrete and water features add tremendous appeal to your home. Sunrooms not only add beauty to your home, but also additional finished square feet! I haven’t met one person who was sorry they added a sunroom. Who wouldn’t want to feel like they are outside all year long? And aside from adding a stylish look outside of your home, a sunroom adds class, sunshine and architectural appeal from the INSIDE of your home. Most people who own a sunroom will tell you that they literally ‘live’ in their room. No other room in the house gets used as much as a sunroom. The ‘feeling of the outdoors’ in any season or weather is what gets them.
The additional living space—a place to have Thanksgiving dinner, a space to relax, to watch TV, to read a book, to play with grandchildren, to open Christmas presents or to watch the wildlife that takes place in your own backyard—is well worth the cost. As far as adding value to your home, there is no question that a sunroom fits the bill. But adding value to your life and your lifestyle, well I don’t think there’s a price you can put on that.”
While decks and sunrooms are crafted specifically to handle the elements, some of your outdoor furniture and decorations may not be made with the same considerations in mind. Remember, the combination of desiccant winds and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc upon not only the living elements of the garden but the structures as well. Some of the plastics that are produced can become quite brittle in the winter and might be brought inside until the temperatures rise again. If you’re looking for outdoor furniture that can be left outside year round, Precast Products offers furniture that is made to withstand extreme climates and temperature changes! Sue Crawford of Precast Products (precastproducts.com) explains that their outdoor furniture is made of recycled High Density Polyethylene, or recycled plastic milk and water jugs, and will not break down or become brittle from the sun or cold. Additionally, their Maintenance-Free Outdoor Furniture is backed by a 35-year guarantee to never crack, break, rot, or peel and is proudly manufactured in the U.S.A. Also, fall is a good time to replace any questionable retaining walls or to construct them in areas that may erode due to exposure in the winter months. VERSA-LOK products are perfect for this, and are guaranteed to hold up no matter what Mother Nature sends our way.
As previously mentioned, fall is a great time to add or revise your landscaping, as the weather is typically cooler and establishment is much easier. Jeremy Hunt, owner of Hunt Irrigation (www.huntirrigation.com) , provides the following tips for fall landscaping:
“When renovating landscape 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 over watering some plant material.
Landscaping is generally a major investment whether on a residential or commercial project so consult with both your landscaper and irrigation professional. While you are updating or adding landscape beds consider irrigating the beds with drip irrigation. When properly installed, drip irrigation can enhance the plant’s health and ensure that your landscaping will thrive for years to come.
When installing foundation border landscapes, drip irrigation is a great addition. 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.
Fall is also a great time to have your irrigation system audited. If your irrigation system is older and has not been tuned up in at least the last two years, it is time for a check-up. Just as you perform maintenance to your car, furnace/AC or your lawn mower, your irrigation system also needs a little attention from time to time. Always keep your eyes out for the obvious such as broken heads, leaky valves, squishy areas in the lawn, but also look for signs of stress or uneven watering. If there are areas of your yard that look greener than others or you have high and low areas consider giving your irrigation professional a call as this could be something as simple as cleaning a nozzle obstruction or it could be a sign that your irrigation system is not designed correctly. Proper water distribution (matched precipitation) is a very important part of your sprinkler system’s operation and your turf’s health.
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 15th to October 15th. If you do not intend to aerate your yard in the fall then consider slit seeding or drilling the seed. Either one of these methods implants the seed in the soil and protects it from neighborhood friends like birds, squirrels and rabbits. Seeding in the fall usually requires less water to establish the newly planted seed. Another advantage to fall over seeding is weed control. Weeds are at the end of their growing cycle.
With the fall season approaching and the days becoming shorter now is a good time to look at installing an outdoor lighting project. When you spend time outdoors with family and friends, you’ll need adequate outdoor lighting to illuminate your landscape areas. Whether you’re sitting outside on a deck or patio or you wish to place a spotlight on a specific area of your yard, outdoor lighting can create a very pleasurable and inviting space.
When light is brought to a dark backyard or front yard, it visually pushes the boundaries of a house. The more elements that are lit, the more people will push the edges of where a person will tend to gravitate to beyond the interior of a house. Pushing this boundary creates a visually striking look for the outside of the house. A properly designed outdoor lighting project can add both beauty and security to any home.
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. Decide what type of tree you want to plant and make sure that it will survive in your zone and fit into your landscape once fully grown. Many fruit trees come in dwarf varieties and can be pruned to maintain a smaller size. Look for a young and healthy tree at a local nursery. Follow planting recommendations for your variety of tree.
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 winterizes 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.
Any of these services or fall improvements will add both value and aesthetic value to your home and its landscape. Let the professionals at Hunt Irrigation help you turn your house into a home.”
Pretty much any project can be done during the regular growing season can be done in the fall. However, there are projects that are best suited for late summer and fall. “Renovating your lawn can be done at any time during the season, but fall is the optimal time,” further advises Ken Svoboda, owner of Ray’s Lawn & Home Care (www.rayslawn.com) . “The soil is still warm, the rains are a bit more frequent, the sun does not have the scorching effect it does in July and August, and finally you’re not competing with heavy weed growth and turf feeding insects. The same holds true for landscape projects. You will generally receive a better value on your landscape material in the fall as growers and retailers are offering end of season discounts. You’re also getting a full year’s worth of growth for the cost of the plant when calibrated in the early spring.”
As for current trends that can still be incorporated in the fall, Svoboda explains, “Outdoor living spaces are still the rage. Anything that enhances the outdoor experience or extends the outdoor season is in demand. Manufactures have developed components that include outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, pizza ovens and food storage space that are pre-cut for easy assembly and sometimes pre-fabricated so that they simply drop in place as a kitchen in the home would do.
Fire pits this time of year are extremely popular, especially gas fire pits. The instant on, instant off capability is well suited for the active family. Though some of my customers still prefer the traditional wood burning pit, the time it takes to get a good fire started and the liability of potential damage from blowing embers far outweighs the cost of installing a gas line to the pit as a safer method.”
He adds, “Landscaping isn’t something to fear or dread. I help many clients design and install their own landscape quite often. Most homeowners take great pride in their homes and their properties. Along with the feeling of accomplishment comes a sense of fulfilment and even a touch of therapy while working outdoors.
Preparing your living landscape for winter is extremely important. Making sure the root system is adequately covered is key to the long term health of the plant. Where most homeowners fail is in providing enough water to the plants root ball going into winter. Just because there are no leaves on the plant doesn’t mean the plant is fully dormant. Evergreens, both broadleaf and needle, need plenty of water going into winter. As long as the ground isn’t frozen solid and still accepts the moisture without running off you should maintain regular watering.
If you’re considering a fall landscape project and need the assistance of a professional, don’t wait any longer. Good landscapers are very busy in the fall and the chances of getting a late season project started yet this year may be winding down. However, that doesn’t mean you should not make contact with the professional now. Some work may be able to begin this year and complete the project in the spring. If we have a nice long fall, then you’re ahead of the game. Ray’s Lawn & Home Care is a full service lawn care provider as well as a complete landscape firm. Our imagination for a landscape project at your home is only limited by your budget and you’d be surprised how much imagination you get for your dollar at Ray’s. We offer free, no obligation estimates which in many cases include a scaled full size drawing and itemized quote. Ray’s Lawn & Home Care has been serving the Lincoln and southeast Nebraska market for nearly forty-nine years and the testimonials from our many satisfied customers are a tribute to the hard work and dedication instilled in the second generation ownership from Ray himself.”
Lee Schumacher of TDK Lawn Care (www.tdkinc.com) agrees that supporting the root growth of your lawn during the fall is paramount to ensuring the return of a healthy lawn in the spring. “Make sure that you prepare your lawn for winter so that it not only survives, but thrives next season. This includes clearing all debris, especially leaves, and applying a winterizer. A winterizer is a late fall fertilizing designed to help lawns store more food for winter survival, and to encourage thick and rapid growth and rooting in the spring. A winterizer isn’t meant to encourage fall growth of grass; it is the finishing touch for a good start in the spring. Early fall fertilizing, which can still be done in October too, is widely considered the most important fertilizer of the year for northern grasses. The best time to apply a winterizer is after the grass stops growing in the fall, but while it is still green. In Nebraska, this will be sometime in late October all the way up until mid- to late November in some instances. Basically, when you put the mower away for the year, apply winterizer to your lawn too.
Aerating and overseeding is also a good idea. This will promote root growth; the stronger the root system, the better chance your lawn will have to withstand the harsh winter conditions in Nebraska every year. Also, fall is a great time for planting trees—it may seem strange, but especially after the leaves have fallen off. As with your lawn, this gives the tree a chance to grow a strong root system prior to dormancy while not being stressed out trying to create leaves. Preparing your lawn for the winter is fairly easy and not terribly time consuming, but it is also something that is often overlooked and with detrimental results.”
As previously mentioned, fall landscaping has a major focus on groundskeeping, preparation, and streamlining all processes for optimal results. 1776 Grounds Maintenance provides these services all year long, including lawn treatments, landscape maintenance, tree care, leaf and debris removal, and even simple handyman projects to keep everything under control continuously. Roger Berte, the founding owner of 1776 Grounds Maintenance (www.1776gm.com), advises, “Working with the same maintenance team all year long provides stability and a structured plan for what needs to happen throughout the year in order to stay on top of things. This way, in the fall when we are focused on preparing for the winter as well as how the property will flourish next spring, you can trust that everything is being taken care of properly. You’ll essentially never have to worry about forgetting to do something or missing out on the perfect time for each necessary task. Our goal at 1776 is to utilize our knowledge and proprietary techniques to manage the upkeep of property so that everything gets taken care of in a timely, effective and thorough way.”
Along with landscaping and outdoor living spaces, there are also key exterior-focused projects that are beneficial to have completed in the fall.
“Fall is the perfect time to do an exterior inspection in preparation for winter,” advises Jason Olberding, owner of J-Tech Construction (jtechconst.com) . “You want to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible and not only that, you’re going to want to double check your roof for any possible damage that may have happened during our storm season. Making sure your roof is properly maintained can save you from a huge headache down the road. My recommendation is to have an exterior expert give your house a thorough inspection to avoid any complications over the winter months.
Moreover, it is always a good idea to have your windows looked at before winter sets in. Similar to winterizing your vehicle or irrigation system as far as fall landscaping goes, there are steps you should take to ensure your home is prepared to handle our cold Nebraska weather. Replacing your old windows with new triple pane windows will not only save you money on your energy bills but by decreasing how hard your furnace has to work, it can also increase the longevity of your furnace. That can become very important to homeowners in Nebraska because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be left with drafty windows and a broken down furnace in the middle of December around here.
As far as trends go, one thing that we have seen increase in popularity is our Seamless Metal Alloy Siding. The aesthetics of this product have really caught the attention of homeowners in our area. The sleek, seamless look has become very popular. It is the perfect complement to a beautifully landscaped property.”
Overall, as long as you’re focused on preparation for the upcoming winter weather and thinking ahead for what you want your property to look like in the spring, you’ll be headed in the right direction as far as fall landscaping and exterior projects are concerned. Ensuring that all of the necessary tasks are accomplished will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the fall and to get excited for what’s to come next spring!