From football to festivals, outdoor activity comes alive in the fall. As you marvel at the magnificent fall color on your trees, remember that this is also a great time of year to prep your yard for the next growing season. Cooling temperatures slow above-ground growth while moist soil encourages strong root development. Removing spent stems, dead branches and heavy leaf cover protects plants' overall health.
Here are five tips from certified arborists at The Davey Tree Expert Company to ensure your yard is ready for winter:
1. 5 Steps to Plant New Trees and Shrubs
In many parts of the country, planting trees and shrubs in early fall gives plants a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil.
Dig a hole (twice the diameter and to a depth of two inches less than the full height of the root ball).
Position the shrub in the hole (make sure the top of the root ball remains at, not below, ground level).
Fill in with soil and water to settle soil.
Add more soil to top of root ball (don't pack soil down with foot).
Properly mulch around the tree.
2. Prune Dead, Diseased Or Unsafe Branches
Pruning is a cornerstone of any successful tree care program. Lifeless branches can succumb to winter snow and winds, endangering you and your home.
Cut cracked, loose and diseased limbs close to the trunk; leave wounds exposed to heal.
For big jobs, call a certified arborist.
3. Mulch Young Trees and Plants
High-quality, organic mulch helps keep organic matter in the soil around the tree, conserves soil moisture and provides weed control.
Organic mulch can be made of chopped leaves, weed-free straw or wood chips.
Cover the planting hole with one to two inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. But don't over mulch the tree or "volcano" mulch. Keep the mulch two to three inches away from the trunk or the trunk will rot.
Apply it before the ground freezes.
4. Collect Leaves
To make fallen leaves easier to transport, rake them onto a plastic tarp.
Add leaf matter from the gutters and other lawn clippings to a compost bin. Flip the leaf pile every week with a garden fork to aerate; the "black gold" that results next year can be used to feed trees and shrubs.
5. Inspect Trees & Shrubs For Insects & Diseases, & Treat Appropriately
Be on the lookout for Emerald Ash Borer, scale, mites, lace bugs or beetles. Insect and disease management is an important fall action to ensure healthy trees all year.
Always talk to a certified arborist, especially if you're seeing early fall color - you may have an issue! Contact your local Davey professional with any tree service concerns as you enjoy your landscape this fall. Download the Davey Tree fall checklist here for an on-the-go guide.