Winter is coming to Ohio. The days are shorter, the grass isn’t growing as high – if at all, the leaves are changing color, and your yard is preparing to take a seasonal nap. But before you hang up your gardening gloves, here are three fall landscaping tips you shouldn’t ignore.
Irrigation blowout, close and winterizing
Once the bitter cold temperatures are upon us, the ground will inevitably freeze. You may think that draining your irrigation system is enough to protect it, but draining alone doesn’t remove all the water in the pipes. And we know what happens to water when it freezes: it turns into hard, damaging ice that can wreak havoc on your irrigation pipes.
The best way to protect your irrigation pipes over winter is to make sure all the water has been removed by thoroughly blowing out the system.
To properly blow the water out of your system you’ll need an air compressor. This means if you don’t own one, you need to rent one. Once you have a compressor and you’re ready to blow, you’ll need to make sure the pressure is regulated, because too much pressure can damage the pipes. And wear protective glasses, just in case.
Sure, you can accomplish this task yourself; however, you better know what you’re doing to avoid damaging your valves from too much pressure. Or, you can call a professional who has the right tools and experience to blow out your irrigation system, stress-free!
Leaf removal and composting
If you have trees, you probably have fallen leaves; and to protect your grass from being smothered, and potentially dying, you need to remove them. After you blow, rake or mow the leaves away, you might consider recycling them into compost. Why? Composting leaves is an easy way to create an organic, nutrient-rich additive for your garden soil. Plus, you’re recycling!
According to The Compost Guide, the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure. But merely raking leaves into piles and leaving them sit until spring does not produce the right result. To avoid being stuck with a soggy, matted, useless mess, you need to do a little more work.
First, determine where you want your compost pile(s) to hang out over winter. One option is to buy some inexpensive chicken wire to contain your compost; it’s not only cheap, it’s also easy to work with. Bend the wire into a circle or square; it doesn’t matter the shape. You just need a way to contain the leaves so they don’t blow away.
Next, you need leaves. Using your lawnmower to collect leaves saves time. Plus, the mower’s blades shred the leaves into smaller sizes, which makes them easier to work with.
To speed up the decomposing process (after all, you want to use the compost in spring) you need to add a source of nitrogen. Common choices include grass clippings, manure, nitrogen fertilizer, or a compost activator. When adding manure or grass clippings, use a five to one ratio. When adding fertilizer or activator, simply follow the directions on the package.
Compost also needs oxygen, so give your piles a stir every couple of weeks to keep the air circulating. When spring arrives you’ll have some prime organic matter to mix in with your garden soil.
Spring bulb planting
Now’s the time when the ground is cold enough to plant your spring bulbs. Ohio favorites include daffodils and tulips! Make sure to pick an area in your yard where the bulbs will get full sun. The size of the bulb affects how deep you need to plant them; basically, a three-to-one ratio. So, if a bulb is 2 inches long, plant it 6 inches deep.
And remember to plant your bulbs pointy side up (root side down). If you have compost, add it to the soil for extra nutrients, then water the bulbs so they can settle in. And don’t be afraid to get creative. These spring flowers don’t need to be planted in a row. To add a little drama to your yard, why not group different bulbs together? Then, just wait until spring for your colorful surprise! You can read more about spring bulb planting in this previous article.
Fall is the perfect time for irrigation close and winterizing, leaf removal and composting, and spring bulb planting. So, get out there and enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful landscapes. As always, if you have questions on your outdoor yard projects, just contact us for help.