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Fall is the best time for trees, shrubs and lawns

By Danelle Cutting

For the Salisbury Post 

Most advertisements want you to believe that spring is the most opportune time to plant, but for trees and shrubs, fall is definitely better.

It is also a great time to start some home and lawn remodeling, as well as home décor. In this article, you will get some tips to help you prepare your home gardens and lawns, making sure you have the best success.

Whether you are planting trees, shrubs or reseeding your lawn, you need to take a soil sample. Too many people are in the routine of liming and fertilizing their lawn in the fall, not knowing what the soil and plants really need.

If you are stuck in this routine, put the lime and 10-10-10 fertilizer down, and run, not walk, to the Extension office to get a soil test kit.

We do not want to end up like some states which have banned certain fertilizers due to homeowners misusing the product by not taking soil samples.

It also wastes your money and time because if you are just guessing at what the soil needs, then you are not helping your plants. You do not guess which fuel your car needs; you know exactly what your vehicle takes, so why not know what your soil needs?

Currently, soil samples are free if they are taken before December. Beginning Dec. 1, soil tests will cost $4 for each sample.

Once the soil analysis has come back, be sure to make all the amendments. If you have a problem reading the analysis, call your local Extension agent to assist you with the report. You also need to understand that amending the soil can take time, even years, if major improvements are needed.

Cool season lawns are best established and reseeded in the fall. If you are establishing or reseeding a lawn, make sure you have the weeds destroyed/removed to reduce competition.

It is also very important to select the proper seed. The better the quality of seed, the more expensive it will be. Make sure to read the label and look for the percentage of noxious weeds. If you are trying to reduce your weed pressure, purchase seed that has little to no noxious weed seed.

Planting trees and shrubs in the fall is a good idea because of the plants putting more energy into establishing its roots. The plants are not concerned with developing flower, fruits or leaves, so they have a better chance at getting established.

Cooler fall weather also helps reduce the stress of the plants; they usually do not have heat or drought stress during the fall months.

For many homeowners, fall is the best time to decorate porches and steps with plants, pumpkins and straw. If properly watered, chrysanthemums can be planted in your landscape for a beautiful floral addition.

Chrysanthemums prefer rich, organic soil and are very temperamental about being watered. They do not work well if they are not tended to properly.

Pumpkins and gourds can help set the fall mood and can be kept for quite a while, as long as the temperature stays cool. Cutting into the pumpkins, squash and gourds will reduce their shelf life. This is because the interior of the fruit is moist and encourages fungal growth, which eventually decomposes the fruit at a quicker pace.

The fall can be a wonderful time for working the landscape and gardens. It is also one of my favorite times of the year. If you would like more information on lawns, fall gardening or chrysanthemums, please call your local Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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