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Fall Into Florida Landscaping this Season

As our hotter Florida summer temperatures finally begin to wane and bring cooler days, it is a perfect time to assess your landscaping needs and prepare for the spring season ahead. By planning and making a little extra effort during the fall months, you can ensure that your landscape looks beautiful for the rest of the year. 

Plan(t) Ahead

One essential part of fall landscaping is deciding what to plant or replant during the fall months. A few climate-appropriate plants that will bloom for you in springtime include: 

When cool but not too cold, fall weather is also perfect for planting vegetables and herbs that will grow for you during the winter. Late September and October are ideal times to add shrubs while strawberry plants can be set in October. The following herbs and vegetables can also be added to your fall garden: 

Save Your Leaves

As North Florida begins to cool down, you may notice more leaves in your yard. Time to grab the rake and leaf bags, right? Not so fast. 

Those fallen leaves can actually make a really good, all-natural compost and mulch for your yard. Leaves and other natural green waste that would decompose naturally account for almost 1/12th of all waste in landfills! You can take a step to save the environment by repurposing these leaves instead. 

It’s also great for your yard’s health. Leaving the leaves on your yard can: 

We know all these leaves can still be a bit messy to look at at the moment, so here are a few steps you can make the perfect fall mulch with your leaves and gain all their benefits:

  1. Let leaves stay where they fall and run them over with a mower, effectively mulching them and helping them to break down faster. 
  2. Rake up leaves, and use them as mulch in garden beds. If you have a shredder, it helps to shred them first, but they will be just fine if you don’t. 
  3. Rake them into a pile, and leave it. They will decompose over time, and the resulting compound (commonly called leaf mold) can be used to amend the soil.
  4. Combine fallen leaves or “brown material” with non-meat food scraps, lawn clippings, and other “green material”, keep moist, turn occasionally, and you’ll have nutrient-rich compost ready for your garden in spring.

Maintain Your Fall Landscape

In addition to your normal routine landscaping such as mowing, there are some more easy steps you can take to prepare your yard for spring, including weeding, fertilizing, preventative pest control, and irrigation.

*For the sake of your property and the surrounding environment, be very careful when applying herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer. If you have any concerns, please consult a professional.

Weed Prevention

Some weeds thrive in our cooler weather and appear as soon as the early fall months. Applying the appropriate preemergence herbicide during the fall—do not apply after late September or October—helps prevent weed growth before it starts. For application, it’s best to wait until the temperature stays at 60 degrees or lower for 4 straight nights. The herbicide you apply will last for anywhere from 6-12 weeks. If a few weeds crop up after treatment, they can be hand-picked, but if weeds become rampant, a professional landscaping company may be needed. 

Fertilization

Florida’s soil is generally sandy and lacks sufficient nutrients. To allow for the proper growth of what you have planted, it’s crucial to ensure that your soil is sufficiently fertilized. The last fertilization of the year should be applied during the fall (with chemicals consisting of 2% or less phosphorus to comply with Florida law). The fertilizer should also contain slow-release nitrogen and potassium—the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio should ideally be 16-4-8.  

Pest Control

Yard insects can still lead to infestations—even in the cooler months. A few pests to watch out for include:

These pests should be treated and prevented before they cause lasting damage to your lawn. If your lawn has discoloration or brown patches, these are good indicators that you have an issue. Make sure you use specially formulated pesticides for these particular pests because the incorrect pesticide can be ineffective against our native pests and also damage your soil. Call a professional pest control company if you don’t feel comfortable handling pesticides yourself or think you have an infestation. 

Irrigation

Most lawns need an inch of water a week to stay healthy. As the rainy season ends in Florida, relying on rain showers to sustain your landscape is unwise. Regularly check your irrigation systems and soil moisture during the fall months to ensure all areas of your lawn receive the proper coverage while the rainfall diminishes. Plan to use your irrigation system to water your lawn at the very least through October. 

Fall Mulch

Fall is the perfect time to refresh your mulch to encourage healthy, vibrant growth in the spring. Mulching helps protect your plants through our harsher, but short-lived, cold months of the year cost-effectively and easily. Mulch acts as a protective layer for your plants and trees’ root systems in addition to complementing the beauty of your landscape. 

To refresh your mulch, it may be necessary to replace it. Mulch should be kept to 3 inches to be effective. Well-placed, new mulch helps prevent weeds, reduces unnecessary irrigation, controls erosion and sediment runoff, and allows your landscape to retain the moisture it needs.  

Why Is Mulching and Maintaining Your Landscape So Important?

While there are a number of reasons to consider adding mulch this fall and keeping up with your landscape, these are our top three:

  1. Fall mulch helps maintain a consistent temperature for your plants through winter. During the winter months, especially in north Florida, temperatures can range from below-freezing up to the mid-80s, all within the course of a few days. This variability can wreak havoc on your plant’s roots and cause unwanted damage to your more sensitive plants. A layer of mulch helps provide insulation and shelter from the cold, which helps protect your plant’s roots and the beneficial organisms living in the soil beneath. Mulching in fall ensures that your plants will be more vigorous and healthy come spring. 
  2. Taking care of your yard in the fall can help save you time in spring. Spring is a busy time for most people. While adding a new layer of mulch to your landscape or garden during the start of the growing season can be important, adding a thick layer before winter equals one less thing you’ll have to do in spring. This saves you time for more important activities like planting new garden beds, adding topsoil, or enjoying the outdoors with your family and friends. 
  3. Landscaping is easier than any other time of the year. The temperatures are starting to cool but aren’t yet cold. The rain and humidity have subsided, and the air is crisp and welcoming. Fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the outdoors—outdoor activities like caring for your yard are much easier and more enjoyable this time of year.

The Gaston’s Mulch and Soil Difference

While landscaping and lawn maintenance go a long way, using poor-quality mulch for your efforts can do more harm than good. And, purchasing your mulch from a big box store often equates to paying more for reduced quality. 

Gaston’s Mulch and Soil offers a large selection of mulch for sale that can be bought in bulk for your convenience, and we use tree debris recycled from our tree service to aid in sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Our Gaston’s mulch is made of the highest quality, so you get the most benefits possible from your mulching efforts. Contact us today, and we can help you determine what types of mulch—and soil—best suit your landscaping needs!