Your landscape and cool season lawn still need a little pampering and maintenance this season. In the spring, you will be glad you made the extra effort.
It is important for a lawn to go into the winter cut a little shorter – two and a half inches or so if you normally cut at 3 inches. The grass continues to grow over the season and long grass can smother itself, showing signs of thinning in the spring. Long grass also can collect moisture, making it more susceptible to cool weather diseases.
Fall fertilization of cool season grass also is very important because it promotes good root development. It also helps the lawn hold its green color this fall and green up earlier in the spring. You can fertilize as late as the first week of December with two pounds of Urea per 1000 square feet.
Don’t forget to remove all the leaves from turf areas to prevent moisture collection, thinning and possible disease problems.
Planning on planting a tree or shrub in your landscape? Fall is an excellent time. Transplanting hardy trees and shrubs in the fall is more successful than any other time of the year. The temperatures are cooler and moisture generally is more abundant. What more could a plant ask for?
As long as the soil temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, a plant’s root system continues to grow and develop into early winter even if the upper portion is dormant. Plants that have broad leaves that must be supplied water by the plant through the winter, such as Holly and Magnolia, are best transplanted in the spring.
Fertilize trees and shrubs only after they have been planted for one full year and have gone dormant, generally from Thanksgiving to March 15. Plants have the ability to absorb nutrients as long as the soil temperature is above 32 degrees. If you fertilize your lawn, your trees in the lawn also are benefitting from the fertilizer application but trees or shrubs in landscape beds may need additional nutrient applications. Evergreens respond better to fertilization if it is applied in late February or March.
Soil analysis to determine nutrient levels is a service provided by the Hardin County Cooperative Extension Service and is free of charge to all county residents.
If you have been thinking about starting a perennial garden, now is an excellent time to prepare the soil. Planting should be done in early spring. Perennials can be planted in the fall but a spring planting is more successful.
Gather Chinese Chestnuts as soon as they fall from the tree. To develop full flavor, they must be cured for a few days in a cool area – 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit away from direct sunlight. Chestnuts may be stored by sealing whole nuts in airtight containers and placing them in the refrigerator at 30 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or in the freezer. Boiling the nuts 3 to 4 minutes in water makes the shells soft and much easier to peel with a sharp knife when they are used in cooking.
Harvest walnuts as soon as they have fallen from the tree. The nuts quickly should be hulled since the stain in the hull can penetrate and discolor the nut meat. The hull also can impart a strong disagreeable flavor to the nuts. Dry hulled walnuts in shallow layers for a period of 2 to 3 weeks before cracking or storing.