Fall landscaping is a mystery to many. It’s hard to know if you should be outside and busy on your property all the time getting it ready for winter, or if you should be slowly allowing nature to take its course, and for your yard to put itself to bed for the cold months ahead. It’s understandable, as everything seems to still be alive and requiring attention, but also growth is slow and plants are entering dormancy. So what do you do?
Considering the amount of snow we’ve had already in Calgary, starting with a huge dump of 25 centimetres at the end of September, followed another storm resulting in 5 centimetres just before Thanksgiving, it’s tempting to say to yourself, “Well, I guess my yard maintenance is over for the year.” But with three generations of experiencewith fall landscaping in Calgary, we can definitively say it’s not time to give up yet. Even though it’s unusually chilly out, there’s still a lot that can be done.
There are lots of myths out there that can prevent you from paying the right attention to your property when winter seems to come very early, like it has this year. These are just a few of them.
Myth #1: A Fall Clean-Up is Not Necessary Anymore
It is more than likely going to warm up at least enough for the snow to melt one more time, and that’s why a fall clean-up is still very important. Because it’s been so damp, fallen leaves and branches make cozy habitats for fungus to grow and bugs and pests to burrow in for the winter. The love the moisture and the protection provided, and piles of leaves and braches are the perfect place to lay eggs. Clearing out your property greatly reduces the chance of invasive pests attacking your garden and killing your perennials, shrubs and trees come spring. That’s why fall landscaping should include a deep raking such as we provide during our seasonal services.
Myth #2: My Irrigation Will Be Fine
No, this is absolutely not true. Your irrigation will definitely not be fine. It’s not too late to schedule your fall underground sprinkler blow out, and we highly suggest you do so. Since temperatures have not fallen well below zero for an extended period of time, the ground is still more than warm enough for fall irrigation services. We usually blow out irrigation systems right through to the end of October, and sometimes even into November. If you don’t tend to your sprinklers, any water left in your irrigation’s pipes will freeze and expand over the winter, causing the cold and brittle pipes to crack. Come spring, cracked pipes will either slowly leak or quickly burst underground to create a boggy mess of your yard.
Myth #3: You Can Stop Mowing Your Grass
At this point, yes, you can stop mowing your grass, unless, of course, we warm up considerably, which is always a possibility in Calgary. As long as your grass is growing, it’s ok to keep trimming it, as long as you don’t cut it too short. Remember, the ideal length of grass is about 3 inches. For the last cut of the season, you can take that down maybe a half an inch, but it’s never a good idea to scalp your grass before winter. Cutting too short will shock the blades, making it hard for to absorb the sun and potentially damaging them beyond repair.
Myth #4: You Can’t Prune in the Fall
After the leaves have fallen and shrubs and trees have reached full dormancy, fall is actually the ideal time to prune. During dormancy, the plant’s growth and development cycles stop, which means they are no longer drawing nutrients or moisture from the soil. So the plant’s circulatory system will not be disrupted at all by a pruning. In addition, the cooler temperatures also mean that there are no bugs or creepy crawlies that can get into “wounds” where live branches have been freshly cut. Calgary has had a real problem with garden pests and tree ailments such as black knot disease and oystershell scale, both of which can be easily spread by improper pruning and both of which can kill its host tree.
Myth #5: It’s Time for the Landscaping Projects to Stop
Fall landscaping can actually be more correctly called fall hardscaping. Fall is perfect for a number of different landscape construction projects to improve your property. Concrete cures very well in cooler weather, and the shorter days and lower temperatures make it a better time than summer to tackle an outdoor construction project.
Fall landscaping projects can include:
- Building retaining walls to add stability to sloped landscapes
- Putting together the perfect patio to increase your home’s value
- Installing an underground sprinkler system
- Revamping your landscape to add new shrubs and trees in the spring
Contact Mirage Year-Round for Services
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We are your outdoor ally all year round. Get started today by contacting Mirage for a fast, free project quote.