Autumn Dos and Don’ts for Healthier Plants and Fewer Weeds Next Spring

Do

Don’t

Lawns

 

Leave the leaves (after chopping up with leaf mulcher or lawn mower)

Kick ‘em to the curb

Aerate and over-seed

Fertilize (particularly near trees)

Switch lawn to gardens

 

 

Garden Beds

 

Remove weeds and invasive plants

Let yourself be hypnotized by ‘pretty’ invasives

Remove any leaves with leaf spot

Allow the fungi to remain on the ground

Pull and dig weeds from the root

Yank and drop

Cover and smother

Weed whack and walk away

Solarize the soil to kill rampant diseases like blight on tomatoes

 

Resist the urge

Rototill weeds (Particularly with root systems like thistles, goutweed, etc.)

Cut back herbaceous perennials after they fade (less work)

Cut back while plants are still green (more work)

Add compost and/or leaf mulch

Pile up leaves around shrub stems and perennial crowns

Do a soil test and amend the soil

 

Plant garlic

 

Plant bulbs including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths

 

Install new trees and shrubs

 

 

 

(Photos by Sherrilyn Billger) 

DO

DON’T

Soggy Soils

 

Plant trees

·      A mature evergreen intercepts more than 4,000 gallons per year

·      Red oaks can remove 92 feet of water per hour

·      Maples remove 8 feet per hour, willows remove 10

Add more grass

·      A study in NC found that switching from forest to suburban turf reduced the soil infiltration rate from 12.4 in/hr to 4.4 in/hr

·      That means trees are three times faster getting excess water out of the soil

Consider swales

 

Aerate your lawn

Compress the soil by driving over it, particularly when it’s wet

Add compost

Turn up your nose at mushroom soil

 

 

Lasagna Garden

 

To transform grassy areas into garden beds, don’t bother weeding, digging, or tilling. Ingredients: cardboard and/or newspaper, compostable materials (plant material, fallen leaves, egg shells, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds), compost and/or dirt

1.    Place cardboard or layers of newspaper on the ground and water

2.    Add a layer of compostable materials

3.    Add a smaller layer of compost or dirt

4.    Rinse and repeat steps #2 and #3 until your lasagna is at least 6” tall

5.    Do nothing for months and months

6.    Check your lasagna in April or May and marvel at the dead grass at the bottom of the ‘pan’

7.    Till if you really feel like it, to mix your lasagna into the soil below

8.    Remove any remaining bits of cardboard (toss ‘em in your compost pile)

9.    Add plants and seeds to your new garden bed

 

 

Miscellaneous Do’s

 

Remove vines growing on tree trunks

Remove dead, dying, and diseased trees, limbs

Remove invasive trees, shrubs, and vines

Consult with a certified arborist

 

In the Comfort of Your Warm House

 

Year in Review

·      What were your greatest victories?

·      What were you biggest challenges?

Start planning your next growing season. Try something new!

Dr. Sherrilyn Billger

ISA Certified Arborist PD-2708A, the Tattooed Economist, seeker, student, teacher, allegorical hamadryad
Dr. Sherrilyn Billger

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2 Replies to “Autumn Dos and Don’ts for Healthier Plants and Fewer Weeds Next Spring”

  1. I enjoy reading these emails from efte.
    Do you work on Philadelphia gardens?
    I’m in need to gardener on a long-term basis, or, if not available for that, I’d welcome short-term help. I have No lawn since maybe 30 years. In E. Mt Airy.

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