15 October, 20


While raking leaves this fall, consider all your plantings around the home. Fall is a great time for moving and removing perennials and shrubs as well as planting new!

First when it comes to raking: rake leaves off lawn as regularly as possible.  Unless leaves are diseased, consider leaving them on flower beds and non-lawn areas to protect overwintering pollinators.

Raking is great exercise, makes less noise than blowers and helps aerate the lawn soil. Wet leaves will be harder to clear and if left too long, will start to kill the grass. Leaves can be gathered into piles for composting. Once you have a significant pile of leaves out of the way, run over it a few times with a mulching lawnmower. The chopped tree leaves can be incorporated into flower bed soil or scooped into a compost pile where they will break down into compost quickly.

More tips for your lawn:

  • Test soil for acidity. Fall is a good time to incorporate lime into soil.
  • Aerate and dethatch lawns if needed, then apply fertilizer.
  • In the absence of a soil test, now is the time to use Jonathan Green’s Winter Survival fertilizer. Winter Survival, with an N-P-K ratio 10-0-20, is a high potash formula to help encourage fall rooting and prevent winter disease with just a the right amount of nitrogen.
  • Mow lawns until hard frost stops growth, usually into November.
  • With each mowing, gradually lower the mower blade so that grass height is 2 inches for winter dormancy.

In flower gardens:

    • Remove yellowing and diseased foliage. Spent annuals should be removed completely.
    • Foliage covered in fungus rusts or powdery mildew (that white, dusty-looking coating) should be disposed of with trash. Other material can be composted.
    • Now you can plant mums, ornamental cabbage and kale to fill in the empty spaces in flower beds.
    • Native perennials are still available. Adding these to your gardens will help our pollinators by providing late-season food.

More tips for vegetable and herb gardens:

Trees & Shrubs can still be planted as long as the soil can be dug—into November!

Other things to consider with trees and shrubs:

These tips expand on ideas offered by the University of Massachusetts Extension Garden Calendar. Now available at Ward’s for $14.99 each.

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