OCTOBER 2015 – As the weather begins to cool and days get shorter, plants are going dormant, and it’s time for landscapers and property owners to pay special attention to specific maintenance issues. As part of our annual service agreements with customers, these are the top priorities LaBahn’s will be addressing on client properties during the fall, but it’s also a good checklist for any California homeowner.
Maintain and Adjust Irrigation Systems
Always adjust your sprinkler system’s watering schedule to reflect the reduced water regulations in place needs of your plants, trees, and turf. Reducing irrigation frequency and duration will make your landscapes more water efficient and eliminate water runoff. This is also a good time to check for problems and schedule maintenance.
For properties not under contract with professional landscape management companies, fall is a great time to have an irrigation audit completed. Summer extreme heats often affect ground components. Look for and repair leaks or clogged or broken sprinkler heads, and consider upgrading your sprinkler system to a smart irrigation management system. These systems use soil moisture sensors and real-time weather reports to adjust automatically to on-site conditions. The result is increased water efficiency, reduced run-off, and long-term cost savings. Several rebates are available from state and local authorities, and we can help you apply for them.
LaBahn’s upgrades existing and installs completely new systems. Click here to learn more about how we can help you with all of your irrigation needs.
Apply Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) and Pre-emergent Herbicides
Plant growth regulators (also known as growth regulators or plant hormones) are used to control normal plant functions, such as plant and root growth, fruit set and drop, and other development processes. By applying PGRs in the fall you can improve the health of your plants and turf, provide stress relief for those impacted by the drought, and reduce labor costs (PGRs can slow the growth of grass and runners, thereby reducing the need for trimming and edging).
Fall is also the time to apply pre-emergent herbicides. When warm weather turf, plants, and shrubs enter dormancy, winter weeds begin to germinate. Left uncontrolled these annual weeds will emerge from the ground in late February or early March, and can be extremely damaging during the spring growing season.
Divide and Transplant Succulents and Perennials (and Maybe Plant Some New Ones)
As the nights start to turn cooler, the conditions are ripe for root establishment and growth. That’s why it’s the perfect time to divide and transplant perennials. Cooler fall temperatures allow root divisions to grow while tops stay low, out of the sun and wind.
How do you know if it’s time to divide a perennial? Look for these tell-tale signs: when all of a plant’s growth appears on the outer edges, if it doesn’t bloom well or blooms are smaller than usual, or if it’s being crowded by neighboring plants.
If you are planning to add new perennials to your landscape this fall, consider choosing drought tolerant species that need less water. If you have unused turf, take this opportunity to remove it and replace it with drought tolerant plants and other types of ground cover. Generous water efficiency rebates are available for this kind of drought mediation project. Contact LaBahn’s today to find out how we can help you take advantage of these rebates and transition your landscape to one that conserves water well into the future.
Prune (Some) Shrubs and Trees
This is a good time to correct shrub and tree problems. Prune to make them more structurally sound. Remove dead or broken branches or those with heavy disease or insect infestations. Pay special attention to tree canopies in relation to buildings. When pruning large overgrown shrubs, thin rather than sheer. Thinning will reduce the plant’s size without affecting the overall shape. This is especially important for flowering species.
Some shrubs don’t like to be pruned this time of year. In California, especially in warm coastal zones and mild inland valleys, roses (and some other flowering varieties) are better pruned in the heart of winter – January or February. Check with the LaBahn’s landscaping team first, if you’re not sure which plants and shrubs need pruning at this time.
Plant New and Fortify Existing Trees
Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees. With the cooler fall and winter temperatures, comes less stress from high temperatures, sun scorch, and the drought – which means roots have a better chance of getting established and building root mass. Make sure to stake or guy newly planted trees to protect them from strong winds.
Now is also the time to feed established trees in order to help them recover from the dry summer months. Inject roots with slow release fertilizers to replace nutrients and improve resistance to damage from disease, insects and stressful weather.
LaBahn’s can help you with all of your fall landscape maintenance needs.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you check these important items off of your Fall “to do” list.