We have moved closer to winter’s start than summer’s end, so it’s time for a Fall Clean-Up List:
1. Clean-up landscape debris: Removing any fallen landscape debris such as branches and leaves will help prevent nesting of pests and will limit the ability for plant diseases to incubate in fallen plant tissues.
2. Cut back perennials: Doing so will allow them to have uninhibited growth during the spring flush.
3. Fertilize your lawn: Apply a late-season, winterizing fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. This will allow for enough nutrients to sustain through the winter, provide better root growth, and allow your lawn to be lush come spring.
4. Give one final mow: Set your lawn mower to a low setting between 2 and 2 ½”. A lower mowing height will benefit the turf since the soil will be able to dry faster during the spring thaw and it will be less vulnerable to winter turf diseases.
5. Protect your sensitive plants: Adding a layer of mulch at the base, wrapping your plants, or applying anti-desiccant sprays will help your vulnerable plants sustain through the winter and minimize any damage from freezing.
6. Plant your bulbs: Taking this step during the late fall will provide your garden with seasonal color in the spring.
This appeared as an "Ask the Plant Expert" advertorial in the November 16, 2016 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.