8 Essential Steps to a Healthy Autumn Landscape

10/16/2014 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Bugs & Disease, Insects, Plant Care, Tips

This week’s photo is for the outdoorsmen who read this column. Imagine nine men on Lake Powell fishing, and you’ll have the setting for our experience. The seven pound twins pictured were only the beginning to a successful catch. By Saturday we landed over 100 pounds of Striped Bass, smallmouth, walleye along with a few largemouth bass, most of which were eaten on the spot! To exercise YOUR bragging rights, bring your best fish story when you visit the garden center this week; the tale can never be too big to elicit doubt or appreciation! You have my permission to forward the photo to the fishermen in your life. If they live anywhere in the mountains of Arizona, forward the article, too, and they also can be in on the essential Autumn tasks needed for a stress free landscape. Here are my top eight task to perform before Thanksgiving for a health, stress free landscape.Ken fishing stripper

Step #1– Aphids hatched this week throughout town. Look for tiny winged insects flying through the yard, these are aphids. They attach themselves to dogwood, apples, roses and a host of other landsape plants. Watch for large aphids on trees as well. If the leaves and rocks at the base of trees are glistening like a morning’s dew, aphids have begun their assault. Get on them right away by hosing down these pests with specially formulated “Multi-Purpose Insect Spray”. It will eliminate aphids from any landscape, or any other bug for that matter. Spray at the foundation to keep away ants and spiders.

Step #2 – The most critical job of fall is also the easiest gardening task: feeding everything in our landscapes. The entire yard should be fed within the next few weeks. Stay away from synthetic winterizer plant food. Much safer results are delivered with my 7-4-4 “All Purpose Plant Food”. This locally blended natural plant food is safer for pets and people alike and is less threatening to our drinking water than synthetics. Evergreens will keep their rich green color through winter with this Fall feeding, and it’s a must for spring bloomers like lilacs and forsythias. Native pinion and ponderosa pines should receive this meal to fend off bark beetles, scale, and aphids. Even houseplants should be given a small taste.

Plant protectorStep #3 – This is the time to treat pinion pines for scale. Each tree gets treated with liquid “Plant Protector”, and it doesn’t take an arborist to apply this liquid bug killer. Diluted with water in a 2- gallon watering can and applied at the base of each evergreen, the roots will absorb it and do the rest. I think of it as an antibiotic for trees. Reapply in March and you will have great looking pest- free trees in your landscape.

Step #4 – This step can save you from a plumber’s bill to repair a frozen water system. Every fall I buy next spring’s mulch, manure, and shredded bark products and use them as insulating bags. They are perfect to use as cold protection over your valve box lids, around the well house, and around back flow preventers. The garden will need them anyway next spring, so why not get double duty out of those bags of soil amendments?

Step #5– By November trees will be bare and the summer flowers dead. Strategically place some blooming autumn plants in your landscape, containers, and vegetable garden and you’ll have flowers in bloom through the end of the year. By the end of the month plant pansies, kale, mums, violas, broccoli, cabbages, lettuces, and/or cauliflowers to avoid having your landscape left looking bare.

Weed beater ultra (2)Step #6 – When nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees it is time for a cool- weather weed killer. Glyphosate based weed killers no longer work. Ragweed, dandelions, and all the other nasty autumn weeds are controlled easily by using liquid “Weed Beater Ultra”. Spray it on and watch them “melt away”.

Step #7 – If your lawn looks heat-stressed or doggie-damaged, it’s best to de-thatch before adding that one last feeding of ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ 7-4-4. Two weeks after applying the food add a granular supplement called “Soil Activator”. This food-activator combination should keep the lawn green long after your neighbors wish they had done the same. This also encourages growth in the bare spots of the lawn.

Step #8 – If you have a rock lawn apply “Weed & Grass Stopper”. Winter weeds like foxtails and dandelions will emerge and become a serious problem just after the holidays. This granular weed stopper prevents weeds from coming back by seed. This is especially important if you missed applying it during this summer’s monsoon season.With these minimal maintenance tasks you’ll find your winter-blooming flowers brighter, your evergreens greener, and your spring growth more vibrant. If you have questions about any of these eight steps, please stop by the garden center where my staff and I will be glad to sort out your concerns.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/WattersGardenCenter