Small things you can do to make a big difference in your yard this fall

Fall is always a wake-up call for us. A brisk shake from the slower sway of summer. We realize we can be productive again—we kind of have to be, truth be told—and yet most of this activity begins to move inside as the temperatures get colder.

And still, before we hibernate, we take a little time to enjoy the crisp air and the opportunity to be outside without an army of winter clothes. We have a short list of things we like to do to make the most difference in our lives now and come spring. They’re not mandatory (much of ‘yardening’ isn’t), but these preventative and preemptive steps are what can mean the difference between just another yard and garden and one you truly love to come to.

1) The weather is right to plant.

It’s cooler, wetter and the ground is still workable. It’s the perfect time to plant. If some of your holly or boxwoods didn’t bounce back after last winter, now’s the time to replace them. Consider planting the tree you’ve always wanted, but make sure you keep these things in mind before you get started. Fall is also the time when you can find healthy, well-structured trees and shrubs at the best prices of the year.

2) Consider wrapping newly planted trees.

If you hadn’t heard of sun scald or winter scald before, you probably did after last winter. Many young and newly transplanted trees with thin, tender bark and/or little cover from the branches above warmed up in the winter sun, stimulating activity and then froze again quickly in frigid winter shade and wind. The drastic temperature change killed some of the active tissue in the trunk causing sunken, dried or cracked areas of dead bark.

We recommend wrapping light colored tree wrap in overlapping spirals over the trunk. The wrap is weather-resistant, reflects heat and stretches as the tree grows.

3) Discover the wonder of Wilt Stop®.

This product is kind of magical. Wilt Stop is actually a natural, non-toxic product made from the resin of pine trees. The spray forms a soft, flexible film over the leaves to seal in moisture and prevent drying, wind burn, sun scald and transplant shock. The protective film is transparent, so you never see it and it allows plants to grow naturally.

We recommend using Wilt Stop on newly planted evergreens (like norway spruce), shrubs (like boxwood and holly) as well as cut greens and trees for the holidays, including Christmas trees, wreaths, porch pots and garlands, both indoors and out.

4) Use mulch to protect your plants.

By now you know that quality hardwood mulch not only looks nice, it adds valuable organic material to the soil, regulates soil temperatures, seals in moisture, discourages weeds and protects roots throughout the winter. Adding an extra layer of mulch will help your plants through the winter and give them an extra boost going into early spring.

You can also use the mulching feature on your mower and mow right over a thin layer of leaves, collecting the debris and spreading around your plants. The organic matter will benefit the soil and plants and insulate them for the winter.

5) Get your bulbs in the ground.

Every year come spring, you see daffodils, trillium and snowdrops popping up in yards around town and you kick yourself. Why didn’t you plant bulbs last fall? This fall can be different! In just 30-60 minutes you can plant a dozen or more bulbs and call it a day. Nothing else to do but settle in for a cozy winter and pat yourself on the back in spring. Here’s everything you need to know about starting your bulbs, including getting yours in the ground in the next 30 days or so.

Enjoy the colors and the cool air and send us pictures in spring!