If Calgary taught us anything last September, it’s that it’s never too early for a snow storm. And while I’m sure we’d all prefer a warmer autumn (can we please not have snow until after Halloween this year?), the fact is winter could arrive at any time. If you, like many Calgary homeowners, haven’t finished your fall clean up yet, now is the time to start!
Fertilize. Did you know that fall is a great time to encourage strong root development? While your plants are shedding leaves for autumn, root growth continues until the soil consistently sits around 4°C or cooler. Using a high-phosphorus (12-25-12) fertilizer now will help your grass outcompete the weeds come spring.
A Final Mow. When it comes to the final lawn mowing of the year, you’ll likely want to cut the grass a little shorter than you usually do. A lawn cut to 1 ¼ inch won’t cling to the rotting leaves and is less likely to become diseased. Don’t cut much shorter than that though or your lawn won’t be able to produce enough food to grow come spring.
Rake, Trim, and Compost. It’s time to gather up all the old grass, dead twigs and branches, and fallen leaves and to put them all to good use. If you take the time to rake your lawn, you’ll be amazed at how much dead grass has piled up over the years. Getting rid of decaying leaves is an important part of keeping your grass healthy, so don’t forget to rake up those too. Dead branches on trees and bushes can be blown away in snow storms and may damage you or your neighbour’s property — they’ll also need to go, and now is the perfect time to trim back any dead areas. Any spent annuals can join the plant litter in the compost, and cutting your perennials now will help to seal in extra energy for next spring.
Mulch. Our harsh Canadian winter is tough on young plants. While soil usually cools much slower than air, when a tree or shrub has been recently planted, there are cracks in the ground from digging and planting. Cold air can work its way through these cracks to weaken and kill roots. In order to avoid this, you’ll want to use a 15-20 cm (6-8 inch) layer of mulch or straw around these new plants. It will help to insulate the earth and keep the roots warm. Around experienced plants, a 10-15 cm (4-6 inch) layer is plenty.
Shut Off the Outside Water Supply. Once you’ve turned off the outdoor water supply, you’ll want to drain hoses and store them in the garage or basement. Make sure to drain water from sprinkler systems, irrigation systems, and any other pipes that may crack if they freeze.
You can expect a fall clean up for a decent sized yard to take a you a weekend or two. The more help you have the faster it’ll go! The expert landscapers at Five-Star would love to be your fall clean-up team. Give us a call, and we’ll make sure your yard is winter-ready while you spend time with your family doing what really matters.