SCI provides complete landscape maintenance to residential and commercial properties throughout the Northwest Suburbs.

Fall is upon us and ready to set it, as we have already had our first snowfall! To help you get ready for the next one, Scarvalle Landscaping has compiled a fall yard and garden checklist to help you make sure you’re ready for fall and an even harsher Chicago winter.

Keep in mind that being proactive now will help yield a better garden and yard for next growing season. By now, you should have had these done, but for those late to the show, here are some points for September:

  • Divide Peonies, Iris, Hosta, Daylilies, and other spring blooming perennials: lift the entire root mass, then use a spading fork or small shovel to separate individual clumps. Cut back any remaining leaves to a length of 2 or 3 inches. Replant the most vigorous clumps, and discard those that are weak or diseased. Then fill the empty spaces with colorful mums, asters, and ornamental forget-me-nots. 
  • Use metal or copper plant stakes where bulbs are late emerging perennials have been planted
  • Bring houseplants in before nighttime temps dip below 40 degrees
  • Remove tired annuals and refresh your garden with colorful annuals: this generally works only in mild winters, but these include cabbage, kale, pansies, primroses and violas.
  • Get a jump start on spring: Plant trees, shrubs, and evergreens now!
  • Keep newly seeded lawns watered!

Landscaping Maintenance & Services

October and November Tips

  • Wrap all young trees with tree wrap: this is because in winter most lose moisture on sunny days without replacing it because the soil is frozen. Surround the with burlap or old sheets. Drive narrow stakes around the tree and pull the material taut over them so that it doesn’t rest on leaves or branches; secure in place with staples. This will create a shade and slows wind, both reduce transpiration.
  • Tip tender garden roses by mid-October: most modern hybrid roses are damaged by temperatures below 10F or so. Mound the soil over the plant’s central crown or bud, called the but union ( this node at the base of the plant is the spot from which new canes emerge). Also wrap stems with wire or mesh cylinder filled with a light mulch such as composed bark.
  • Plant trees, shrubs and vines: planting now through the end of October gives most plants a head start in the spring, since roots will grow in still-warm soil long after air temperatures drop. Be sure to soak the root ball thoroughly at least weekly if the weather is dry. In harsh winters, apply mulch after the soil freezes to prevent the soil around plants from thawing and refreezing, which can damage tender new roots.
  • Prep garden for next spring by adding peat, compost, and other soil amendments
  • Keep mowing your lawn to prevent snow mold next spring: do it every week or so until the grass has stopped growing. For lawns under or near deciduous trees, using your mower mulching mode- in which discharge chutes are closed off so that the grass and leaves can be chopped more finely- also allows leaves to decompose on your lawn without being smothering. If your mower doesn’t have a mulch mode, remove leaves by raking them for bagging or composing.
  • Empty clay and concrete pots to prevent frost cracking and store in a dry spot
  • Store pesticides and herbicides in airtight containers and keep in a spot they will not freeze
  • Get a jump start on your spring landscaping plan by take measurements and a site analysis before the snow flies
  • Plant your pots and window boxes with spruce tips and other greenery before the ground freezes.

While there is an abundance of care and special planning for you to do so your yard and garden is in top shape, we thought you could use some other things that you could do to help you along.

  • Prune shrubs to shape and promote new growth: Late winter through early summer is the time to prune most trees and shrubs. Prune lightly to repair broken or damaged limbs or to minimally shape trees. Spring blooming shrubs should be pruned immediately following blooming.
  • Remove tops of raspberry cans that have fruited; lower portion will bear next summer.
  • Seed lawns should be done before September 20th to establish grass before the October frost: Fall and winter are also good times to lay seed so that your lawn gets a head start in the spring.
    • When the soil freezes, its already too late to seed for fall germination. Instead, wait until the soil thaws to sow seed; it will lie dormant until spring. Cover the seeds lightly with straw or mulch to protect them from feeding birds. This works best on level ground, since sloped ground can allow the seeds to wash away before they can germinate.  
  • Spray broadleaf weeds in lawns: Most common is dandelions, can be pulled out by hand anytime. But autumn is when they’re most vulnerable to weed killers.
    • For most lawns, if there are too many weeds to deal with by hand, use selective herbicides to control the large infestations. These should contain ingredients that will kill most broadleaf weeds without damaging the surrounding grasses, but be sure the check the label; some can still damage warm-season grasses.
    • For warm-season grasses, use a nonselective herbicide. Wait until the lawn is completely dormant- when it’s brown and appears to be dead; if not, the herbicide will kill the grass.
  • Apply winterizer to promote a healthy lawn: Fall is the most important time to fertilize cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. It’s also great time fertilize warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysia grass. Fall fertilizing helps keep lawns vigorous and healthy where growing seasons are long and reduces the length of a dormant period. Typically we recommend two applications- the first soon after Labor Day and the second the last time you mow for the year.
  • Get a jump start by planting spring bulbs: Fall is the time to plant crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Thoroughly water trees and shrubs in late fall: soak the soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.
  • Mulch tender perennials with leaves: the best practice is to mulch after a hard freeze. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost, composted cedar, pine, or fir bark, weed-free straw, or similar material.
  • Spray wilt pruf on evergreens to prevent browning: this spray will dry transparent and keep the moisture within the tree that is usually lost in transpiration.

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