Fall, A Busy Time in the Landscape.

Fall is still a busy time of the year in the landscape. It signifies the ideal time for planting and transplanting trees, shrubs and perennials. It’s also time to over-seed warm season grass with winter rye, plant bulbs and pansies and to apply pre-emergence herbicides for winter weed control. While you’re at it, don’t forget to add an inch or two of new mulch to ornamental plantings to help protect the plant roots from the cold. Water plants thoroughly especially during the first few months after planting. It’s the appropriate time to dig, divide and renew landscapes for next year.

Fall remains the best time to plant and transplant trees, shrubs and perennials. By now energy produced by the leaves this summer began to funnel to the roots for winter. Although the tops of plants maybe dormant in winter, the roots continue to grow through the winter. When spring arrives, the plants are ready to explode with new growth. In addition, it is best to plant trees and shrubs early enough in the fall for plants to develop a good root system. Please note that at the time of planting, soil temperatures should be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of 6 inches.

When selecting trees and shrubs for fall planting, there are two traditional ways by which plants are available; the balled-and-burlapped method and planting from containers. It is important that you gain basic knowledge of the plants before purchase. Dig hole two to three times the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the depth of the root ball. Tree roots mainly occupy the upper 12 to 18 inches of the soil and grow wide 2 to 3 times the canopy. There is no need to plant trees and shrubs too deep. Trees that are covered above the root collar tend to find it difficult to survive and have short life span. The main cause of death of newly planted trees is planting them too deep.

Deciduous trees will soon start to shed their leaves for us to recycle as mulch. Rake leaves into small rows. Then, set the lawn mower at the highest setting and run over the leaves to shred them into little pieces. For homes that do not have a homeowner’s association or picky neighbors; shredded leaves remain in place better on the landscape and do not blow around like whole leaves. They also do a better job of holding moisture in the soil and insulating roots of plants from winter cold. Use leaves for winter protection around tender ornamental plants and add some to the compost pile for rich organic matter next spring.

For more information on any horticulture related topics, contact Grantly Ricketts at gricketts@ufl.edu or 321-697-3000.

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