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Utah Fall Yard Maintenance Guide

Like spring, fall is an active season for gardening.  Fall is the season for gardeners to start preparing their plants, lawns, trees, and shrubs for winter and the following spring.  Below are a few recommended practices for fall.

Plant Maintenance

Pruning

For a while fall pruning has been condoned, but it has been discovered that pruning in fall can be more harmful than beneficial.  It is best to avoid pruning during this season, but there are a few instances when pruning is acceptable.  If a section of a tree or shrub has a disease it is best to prune it so you don’t have a bigger problem with it when spring comes.  A branch may also be pruned if it will cause problems with power lines or other nearby things once it is weighed down by snow.

Fertilizing

This season is great for fertilizing just about everything because it will help create a strong root system for spring.  Lawns can be fertilized at two different times.  At the beginning of September a lawn that is in a dormant state can be fertilized with a nitrogen heavy fertilizer.  A good fertilizer for this would be a 20-8-8 fertilizer.  Late October or early November is the best time to do the main fertilizing.  Apply a 13-25-12 fertilizer which has more phosphorus to start growing roots over the next couple months.

It is also important to note that you should continue mowing and watering your lawn into the fall.  The lawn should be mowed until it stops growing, which really depends on the weather conditions.

Perennials should be fertilized during late October or early November.  It is recommended to use a high phosphorus fertilizer, such as 0-20-0.  It should be scattered around the plants and lightly placed into the soil.  Perennials that are just being planted should also be fertilized with a high phosphorus fertilizer.

Trees and shrubs are usually fertilized for winter a little earlier than lawns and perennials.  It is a good idea to fertilize them at the end of September or the beginning of October.  They require slow release nitrogen fertilizer lightly cultivated in the soil.  Use between 1 to 3 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.  It is also helpful to discuss fertilizing with your nearest garden center to figure out the exact amount needed for your beds.

Hardware Maintenance

Hoses

They are used so much while gardening, but they are often overlooked when winter comes.  It is important to detach and bring in your hoses before winter begins.  If the hose is inside and does not have water in it you can avoid the risk of water freezing and rupturing your hose.  Also, it is a good idea to bring in the hose reel, particularly if it has any metal parts.

Sprinkler Systems

Make sure all the water is out of the valve heads so they do not rupture when the water freezes.  The first step in this process is to turn off the water to the system.  Then hook up an air compressor to the sprinkler line and turn it on.  The compressor will put air into the line so you can start checking one zone at a time.  The air will push the water out of the valve head and onto the lawn.  When it appears all the water has left the line for a particular valve head make sure to go over and double check that no water is coming out.