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Mulching with pine bark

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Leaves are changing colors, cool temperatures are creeping in and fall is here. The change in the environment means a change in lawn and garden care.

Keeping lawns and gardens pristine can be a challenge during the cold weather. Megan Jones, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional home grounds agent, provides four tips and tricks for keeping lawns and gardens up to par.  

1. Clean Up

Jones said one of the most time-consuming parts of lawn and garden care can be cleaning.  

“Renew the mulch around shrubs and rosebuds and loosen mulches that have been packed down,” Jones said. “Also, remove all the dead stems and trash from flower beds.” 

Loosening and removing the mulch allows nutrients easier access to the soil around the roots of the plants to liven them up and keep them healthy.  

2. Control Fall Weeds

Every homeowner knows weeds do not go away when the weather changes. Weed control is still an important aspect of proper lawn and garden care.  

“Poa annua, dandelions and lawn burweed are just a handful of the many winter weeds needing to be treated now by applying preemergent herbicides for prevention,” Jones said. “If a homeowner sprays a preemergent herbicide to help prevent the weeds, then a lawn is easy to maintain during the winter because the warm season turfgrass is dormant.” 

Jones said isoxaben, atrazine and benefin+trifluralin are three recommended herbicides to help control these weeds.  

3. Plant in Cold Weather

There are different plants that can be cultivated in the fall and winter. Jones said the best bulbs to plant are hyacinth, daffodil, crocus, Dutch iris, anemone, ranunculus and tulips. The best time to plant them is in November. 

“Planting season for strawberries in south Alabama starts in the fall,” Jones said. “Plant cool-season vegetables–such as carrots, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce–and cool-season hardy annuals such as pansies and violas.”

Fall is also the recommended time to plant new trees and shrubs in the landscape.  

4. Maintain for Warmer Weather

There are several ways homeowners and gardeners can keep their plants healthy through the cold weather to prepare for warmer temperatures.  

“We recommend soil tests in lawns during the fall,” Jones said. “Apply any recommended limestone this fall. Then, prune hydrangeas and gardenias once the flowering season is over.” 

Jones said it is important to water mums at the soil line daily as needed. Take care to pinch spent flowers.  

More Information

Taking the right steps to care for your lawn and garden can keep everything fresh and healthy. More information is available in the November and December sections of the Alabama Gardener’s Calendar available on the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.

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