Fall Lawn Care & Landscaping
Well, it’s that time of year again—school bells, Husker football games, and pumpkin spice everything. It must be fall in Nebraska! While many people consider autumn to be the most beautiful time of year, the landscaping maintenance can be quite an undertaking. We spoke to a few local experts to get some fall lawn care and landscaping advice so that our yards aren’t the scariest thing on the block when Halloween rolls around.
Before you jump right into applying aesthetic landscaping features, a little lawn maintenance needs to be done. If you don’t have a good foundation of healthy soil and grass, everything in your outdoor space will suffer. Luckily, lawn care can be easier than you think; it just requires some basic knowledge and a little attention week to week. We spoke to Larry Svoboda from Ray’s Lawn and Home Care about how to keep your yard looking great.
“Fall lawn care is all about prevention and being proactive,” said Larry. “For example, if you weed now, you’ll have less weeds and a healthier lawn in the spring. Fall is the time when weeds are in full food storage mode for winter survival, and weed control stops that process. Spraying weeds in the fall helps assure that they won’t survive the winter and continue to wreak havoc on your lawn the next season. At Ray’s, we can do a spot treatment for any places in your lawn that need a little more care.”
“This is also a great time to start fertilizing,” Larry added. “The fertilizers will give your grass a shot of plant sugars that will help protect the roots from freezing. This will help your grass bounce back after the snow melts. The trickiest part about tending to a lawn in the fall is making sure you’re on schedule. If you’re unsure of when or how to do something, make sure to plan ahead with an expert. It costs more to fix a problem lawn than it does to prevent a lawn from becoming a problem.”
Ray’s provides Lincolnites with a five-application treatment plan to keep your lawn lush and green all year long. It includes guaranteed grub control, weed control, pre-emergent, post-emergent, fertilizer, and insecticide treatments. They also have additional treatments for fungicides, aerating, and renovation.
An aspect of lawn care this time of year that is more critical than one might think is raking. Some people don’t realize how damaging decaying leaves can be to their yard. Realistically, people should be raking at least once a week in the fall. When you leave dead leaves on your grass, they cut out the amount of sunlight your grass gets in that area, which can result in a brown spot. There has been some debate about whether or not it’s better to rake because leaves do contain organic matter that is good for soil, but ultimately if you want your lawn to look nice, it’s better to control the situation. That doesn’t mean you have to bag up all the leaves and throw them away, you can lightly rake to remove the majority of them, leaving a thin layer to be mowed over and broken down. The rest of the leaves can be composted. Composting leaves makes a dark, rich, earthy organic matter that can be used like soil.
Lawn care is something that not only homeowners need to consider, businesses with outdoor space need to take care of their lawns as well. First impressions matter! What are your customers or clients going to think when they visit your office? If you’re the owner of commercial space, will potential tenants be impressed by the building’s curb appeal?
1776 Grounds Maintenance provides complete grounds keeping services to commercial properties in Lincoln. At 1776, they do everything from raking to snow removal to cutting down trees. They believe it’s better for customers to have one contact for all landscaping maintenance instead of having to get a hold of different people for different projects. Some of the services 1776 performs include mowing, fertilizing, weed control, core aeration and seeding, tree care, snow and ice removal, and more. Their team also does spring and fall clean up services that will keep your business looking sharp no matter the time of year.
We also talked to Lee Schumacher with TDK Lawn Care, Inc. to learn about aeration and overseeding. “Aerating is the process of making holes, about finger-sized, into your lawn and depositing the removed material on the surface to break down,” Lee said. “This loosens compacted soil and allows fertilizer, water, and oxygen to reach the roots, which results in healthier grass. Aerating is especially beneficial in clay soils like we have here in Nebraska. Overseeding while aerating is another amazing lawn care practice. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to reintroduce new grass seed into your lawn without forking out an arm and a leg to lay down new sod. The seeds will fall into the aerated holes and mix in with the broken down soil deposits on the surface, filling in bare spots, improve the density of turf, and enhance your lawn’s color. This tried-and-true method is recommended to be completed by the end of September to be successful.”
Since 2002, TDK Lawn Care, which stands for Timely, Dedicated, and Knowledgeable Lawn Care, has been providing a complete, honest, and professional lawn care service. Their mission is to help you create an annual lawn care program that focuses on your individual lawn care needs at a price you can afford.
Once you have your healthy foundation in place heading into the winter months, you can begin to focus on enhancing the biological features in your yard such as plants, shrubs, and trees. When coming up with ideas of how to create the perfect outdoor space, it’s important to be realistic with your vision. Make sure your ideal flowers are not only pretty but they are actually durable and can withstand the elements in the particular place you plan to plant them. There are also specific plants that can only be planted during certain times of the year. To learn what plants are ideal in the fall, we spoke to the experts at Earl May Garden Center.
They told us that when the temperatures start to drop, it’s time to plant your spring bulbs. Tulips, Crocus, and Daffodils are popular. Bulbs will be that first pop of color in your garden in early spring while other plants are still in dormancy or just beginning to wake up. For the most impact, plant bulbs in groups of 12 or more. Mass plantings of a single color are in trend for the upcoming spring.
The pros at Earl May advised looking for white, healthy bulbs with a paper covering. They’ll look similar to onions. Absolutely do not purchase bulbs that smell or are mushy and moldy. Earl May is a Midwest-based nursery that only sells plants that are hardy and appropriately rated for the local climates. You can always ask one of the knowledgeable nursery staff members at Earl May about how each plant/flower differs from another.
For trees and shrubs, the fall season offers many advantages that outweigh spring planting. The cool temperatures and moisture help the trees and shrubs establish their root systems. When the air temperatures are cooler than the soil, new root growth is encouraged without new top growth. However, if you wait too long into the fall season to plant, you run the risk of poor root growth in freezing temperatures. So, if you want to add some trees and shrubs to your landscape, the time is now!
According to Kaleb Samuelson at Eagle Nursery, good trees to plant in the fall include elm, maple, pines, spruces, ash, and sycamore, to name a few. Most deciduous shrubs, shrubs that shed their leaves annually, can easily be planted in fall as well.
“Plant trees and shrubs early enough in the fall for the plant to develop a good root system,” advised Tom. “Water plants thoroughly with about 1 inch of water per week and continue watering until the ground is frozen, even after deciduous plants have lost their leaves. Wrap the trunks of thin-barked, young trees in late November to prevent frost cracks and potential animal damage, but be sure to remove the wrap in March. Since our Midwestern climate is so unpredictable, putting a 2–4 inch layer of mulch around trees can help prevent wide soil temperature fluctuations. Apply mulch in late November or early December, after the plants are fully dormant and the soil is cold.”
Eagle Nursery is a full service lawn care and landscaping company with 70 acres of trees in production, along with five greenhouses for perennials and shrubs. Their team is dedicated to doing quality work and offering the best materials. Eagle Nursery does residential and commercial landscaping design and installation, landscape maintenance, hardscapes, tree spading services, snow removal, and landscape lighting.
For some, yard work is a thrill and they enjoy dedicating the time to completing outdoor projects. For others, it’s more of a chore. All the power to the DIYers out there, but proper lawn care and landscaping requires more than just hard work, there are a lot of things to be knowledgeable about.
Jackie Lienemann with Luxury Landscape told us about the most common landscaping DIY mistake she sees: “People get too eager to start a yard project that they don’t plan ahead or do enough research to get the job done right. Planning is key to the long health and success of your landscape. Do the research on the types of plants and trees you have in mind for your space. If there’s one thing we see too often, it’s landscapes that were thrown together based on the look of the plants at the time of purchase and planting. That once cute, little plant is now an overgrown monster. A lot of plants will compete for space and eventually die. It’s a common mistake to make, so don’t beat yourself up! While at your plant retailer or nursery, read the tags on the plants and determine the size and best location for the plant to thrive.”
Working with plants can be harder than you think if you have little to no experience. That’s why Luxury Landscape offers to either assist the committed DIYers as they get started or their team will come in and take care of the full scope of the project themselves.
“Luxury Landscape has really earned a reputation that we are proud of, including our response rate in our correspondence with potential customers, as well as those who have been with us for quite some time.” Jackie added. “We understand the importance of listening to the customer’s needs and not overwhelming them with technical sales pitches. When we are designing and installing a renovation or new landscape, we always make that extra effort to give the completed project something that our team is proud of and that makes the customer beyond happy. We call that the Lux Touch!”
One of the biggest and boldest installments to an outdoor space is a beautiful deck. Decks have the opportunity to be a stunning focal point in your backyard and they increase the value of a home.
If you are looking to upgrade the exterior look of your house this fall with a new deck, Deck City has the materials and tools you need if you want to tackle the project yourself. Keep in mind that even though natural wood decks look amazing, it may not be your best financial decision. When you factor in the maintenance needed throughout the life of the deck, it can end up being much more costly and a never ending project. Be sure to consider a composite material as an alternative. TimberTech decking is on top of the curve in the composite industry, and powder coated aluminum railings are the best option for long term railings. At Deck City, they have a help team with product knowledge and building experience to walk you through the steps of building a quality deck with quality products.
If you are looking for someone to build the deck for you, keep in mind that most contractors are booked out months in advanced right now. Decks Unlimited is Lincoln’s premier deck builder. Their crew is 100% dedicated to using the best methods of installation. They take pride in every deck they build, no matter how big or small. They truly believe that no job is finished until the customer is fully satisfied.
“Along with installing new decks or replacing/repairing old decks, we can also build a pergola on existing decks to add a little aesthetic flare,” Dan Waters, owner of Decks Unlimited, told us. “Pergolas have a unique design that creates visual interest in an otherwise basic backyard, and the structural process is pretty straightforward. Plus, pergolas can also lend support to other landscaping features like vines and climbing flowers. Since they are so affordable and low maintenance, I like recommending pergolas to people who are installing or updating their deck because they really define an outdoor space without making the space feel smaller or more confined. They even provide a decent amount of shade depending on the position and size of beams used.”
Another way to enhance your landscape is with outdoor lighting. In the fall, when the twilights are still long but it’s now cool enough to enjoy them, a lot of people want to spend time on their porches or patios at night. Fall is the perfect time to experience low voltage landscape lighting wherever you need it. A favorite lighting trick is using a warm light to illuminate a tree—it simply looks stunning.
Lighting the area around your home and/or business will increase the appearance and functionality of the space. The lighting will make your landscaping visible at night and can make features of the building pop out. Another benefit of landscape lighting is that it increases the safety of the area. Lights will illuminate tripping hazards and drop-offs.
Adding lighting to your landscape is also a great way to show off outdoor furniture and hardscapes. The options are truly endless when thinking about what vibe you want to pull off with your lawn decor. One way to figure out what your options are is to visit a landscaping company like Outdoor Solutions. They will help you make your backyard an inviting, comfortable, and stylish space while staying inside your budget. Whether it’s a fire pit for hosting post-football game bonfires or flagstone to create functional and attractive pathways, Outdoor Solutions has what you’re looking for. Other products you can find at Outdoor Solutions include boulders, cobblestone, mulch, pond supplies, retaining walls, outdoor art, outdoor furniture, grills, and more.
As temperatures drop and leaves change colors, make sure to take care of your lawn with proper fall maintenance practices. If you weren’t born with a green thumb or you just don’t have the time to give your outdoor space the attention it needs, don’t hesitate to call the local experts! Each one of the businesses and people highlighted in this article are passionate about making your yard as lovely as it can be.