The debate of global warming is still one between many people if it`s a true thing or not. We have seen some wild weather patterns over the last couple of years. Rain has been around a lot in the summer months and the fall has been tending to be on the drier side. This is usually the opposite as rain is hard to find sometimes in the summer months. Fall is an ideal time to re-seed parts of the yard with the cooler weather and more abundant wet weather. Temperature swings in the atmosphere also tends to confuse some plants on when to go into dormancy and when to perk up for the spring.
We had a late fall color transition this year in the immediate St. Louis area with the warmer months. This is the latest I can remember for doing leaf clean-ups in January since starting my business 6 years ago. Some plants that shut down for the winter, were starting to bud up early with temperatures being in the 80`s in November. This is very bad as it will open the plant up to winter injury since it hasn`t sealed itself up for the season. Newly installed plants like to have warm weather and good watering’s in the spring. Heavy amounts of rain and early mild weather can make it hard for the plant to develop a good root system before the hot summer months arrive. Try and water newly installed plants daily for the first 2 weeks to help them establish this root system.
Pests have also been very bad the season as the warmer months allow them to live longer and feed more. Spider mites could feed late into the season and cause a lot of damage on evergreens and ewes. Usually this bug is finding a place to bed down for the winter months. We were treating plants late into November to help control the problem. Summer annual weeds and grasses took over early as the ground did dry out early in June. Even with the treatment of putting down a pre-emergent crab grass was running a mock in yards around St. Louis. This is due to the ground cracking early in the season breaking the barrier created by the pre-emergent. Along with a lot of rain that will help it dissipate the chemicals in the pesticide. I believe that the climate is changing and this may have a big impact on the green industry as a whole. Try and plan and follow a good regimen for keeping your lawns and gardens happy this spring. Following watering recommendations and applying a good fertilizer to feed them. Always remember to follow the label on the fertilizer for best results.
Seasons are changing around the area with us deep into fall and winter right around the corner. Doing a few things now will help to keep the gardens clean once winter hits. This may also give you a head start next season as some of the things will be completed already. Cleaning out the garden before snowfall happens around here will help to avoid pests and diseases finding a home in the garden for the winter.
Once a good hard freeze sets in one night, a lot of perennial ground covers can be cut back to a couple of inches above ground the level to get rid of the dead top growth. This would include mums, hostas, day lilies, etc. It is advisable to let the growth stay on some plants like lariope and pompias grasses to protect the crown over the winter from snow and ice collecting on them. I will usually cut back the long reeds on the grasses and leave the remaining growth to protect the crown. Covering up roses and the cut back ground covers will protect them from the winter weather and keep the soil at a constant temperature to help avoid thawing and refreeze which can sometimes pop plants out of the ground if they are fairly young and don`t have an established root system. A good winter mulch can be pine needles, or mulched up leaves. Just make sure to remove your winter mulch in the spring once the chance of frost is gone which is usually by April 1st. Keep the leaves cleaned up as they fall. I know this can be a never ending battle as a lot of trees are late this year to drop their leaves with the mild temperatures that we have been having. A few things can go a long way to help out the garden this winter.
Mulch has many benefits in the gardens as helping plants out and adding the attractiveness your garden may lack. Spring is the time when you may apply a new layer of mulch or turn over the old stuff to bring back the color. Mulch does have its minor maintenance details that some do over look sometimes.
Mulch can help the soil to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This helps when you have bulbs planted in the ground. Moisture can be conserved in the ground during times of drought benefiting plants by keeping it moist. Mulch also helps aid in weed control around the garden. But don`t forget that weeds pretty much can`t be stopped. Maintenance is the key. Depending on the quantity of mulch that you may need it comes in bagged product and in bulk form too. Try to stay away from the discount bags of mulch sold by the big box stored as this is just ground up freight pallets. Some pallets may contain chemicals in the wood that can change the soil. To figure out how much mulch you may need just remember to get the length and width of each bed and multiply them together. Then add everything up to get your square footage. A good thick layer of 2-3 inches is usually ideal for any situation. Too much mulch can actually affect how much air and moisture get to the soil.
Maintenance does come along with mulch as does everything else. A good raking every couple of months can help to keep the mulch loose and maintain its color. Mulch actually will pack down and settle over time. This is a good invitation for the artillery fungus mushroom that can shoot black spores after a while and are very hard to clean from surfaces. A good tool to use in the garden for turning mulch is the garden weasel with its removal able tines. Organic wood mulch usually keeps its color for 12 months then will need to be replenished. Color mulch usually last anywhere from 12-18 months. It`s a good idea to till up the soil a little before laying new mulch as this will aerate the ground.