This is the first installation of a two-part series where Patrick Moran, CEO of Tactical Land Care, has a conversation about preparing your outdoor living spaces for cooler weather.
As temperatures begin to cool, you are going to want to spend time outside in fresh air and a clean environment. The vibrant green of summer wanes and begins to transition to the rich pallet of red, orange, purple, yellow, and brown that we all have come to love with the fall season. It is during this time of year that many plants begin to show their true color, no longer masked by the green of photosynthesis. This is also the time of year when berries develop, a crucial natural food source for birds in our region. If your shrub is native, please pause and evaluate the condition of the plants and their importance as a food source before trimming or cutting off berries at various stages of growth.
At Tactical Land Care (www.tacticallandcare.com), we love the opportunity to connect our clients with their outdoors, and with it, see(d) the joy and smiles that come with a truly beautiful, natural, and sustainable outdoor living experience. We have included tips and reminders to make sure you take full advantage of the fall to make your landscape as beautiful and sustainable as possible!
Love Your Lawn
Fall is the time of year to rejuvenate and recharge your turf. Absent the harsh heat of summer, we think of the fall as the perfect time for your lawn’s spa treatment to bring moisture and nutrition back to the soil. During this time of year, the cooler temperatures are great for seed germination and root development.
Mow your grass down to 2 – 2.5 inches to avoid the risk of matting below your leaves, which can cause disease once the snow falls. But be sure to keep it full. If cutting it this low will leave bare spots, you are inviting volunteer plants (weeds).
If your grass has been struggling, conduct a soil test yourself or call a professional. It will take a few weeks to get the results, but you will be able to see if there are any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. Responsible applications of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, can be essential to help maintain homogeneous turf areas: a generally unsustainable landscape into itself. If you are committed to a tall fescue carpet, fall is also the ideal time to schedule aeration, overseeding, and dethatching of existing lawn. These steps can help maintain a rich tall fescue turf area, which can be highly effective, especially if you have a lot that has compacted soil.
A more sustainable way of maintaining your yard is to spread a light layer of topsoil or compost to the lawn area and embrace the native and naturalized plant biodiversity that include moss, dandelions and clover, or even Virginia strawberries, to name a few.
Most perennials are near the end of their blooming cycle in the fall. If they have berries and are native or naturalized, the way Crape Myrtles are, it is good practice to leave the berries on their branches, as they end up being a crucial food source for birds come winter. Other perennials will be ready for deep cleaning and cutting back. It is important to use sharp pruners and thoroughly sanitize the shears between plants to avoid the risk of spreading and fungal diseases.
Maintain your hardscaped areas (paver patios, concrete, or gravel, by removing volunteer plants, such as weeds), by completely pulling them out from the root. Oftentimes we see that many of the so-called weeds growing are actually native plants that can be beautiful and ecologically beneficial if allowed to mature elsewhere in your garden, in a planter bed or clay pot. If it is invasive, yank it out and don’t look back! Google Image Search can be your friend in identifying what is growing where, and whether or not you want it.
Count your blessings (plants) and take stock!
Landscaping is unique in that there can be generally little residual value of what new homeowners inherit in their yards. If you want to move plans around or potentially propagate them, fall is the perfect time of year.
Check back soon for Part II where we will discuss leaf cleanup and the coming winter.
Tactical Land Care
Tactical Land Care is net-zero to help protect our world and environment for all of us. We specialize in sustainable construction, conservation landscaping, and stormwater management solutions, including permeable hardscape and rain gardens. By working together, we can maximize the ecological benefit of your property.
Your yard endures a twelve-month cycle and our team at Tactical Land Care stands ready to work with you on all your fall and winter maintenance needs. Please give us a call at 703-879-7091, or email us at [email protected], where someone from our TLC team will develop a plan with you to help enhance your yard or property for many years to come.
Patrick utilizes his passion for the outdoors along with his professional skills as a licensed Landscape and Home Improvement contractor in Virginia and Maryland, as well as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and LEED Green Associate. Patrick has a BA from Yale University, where he studied climate change and its impact on society.