Fall Cleanup is Coming: Leaves

Clear leaves and cut back ornamental grasses as an important first step to your fall prep.

Fallen leaves and debris from uncut ornamental grasses, perennials and flowering shrubs can smother and kill turf.

Perennials, which can have a woody stalk or stem left after the blossom fades, should be trimmed back to both promote the plant’s health and maintain a neat appearance.

And remember, bugs that love the outside during the summer usually move indoors when winter hits. They want to be cozy and warm too.

Whether you own a home or live in a managed association, taking care of leaves will keep your home looking good on the outside and bug free on the inside.

 

Wonders of Winter Care – Tips and Tricks

Hello Northern Nevada! Winter is on our doorstep with snow coming soon. In the meantime, there’s still some nice weekends ahead to enjoy being outside while catching up on a few remaining landscape chores.

Snow on top of leaves is a mess

Wet leaves take time to dry out, become heavy and even slimy. It will save you time and trouble in the long run if your yard is covered (again!) with leaves, to deal with them before it snows. For leaves on the lawn, a smart move is to mulch them with a mulching lawn mower. The fragments left behind are good nutrition for the lawn.

In bed areas, you’ll also be ahead of the game by raking most of the leaves out. Work especially at cleaning out ground cover.

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven't yet dropped all their leaves. 

Tree care tips for when it snows

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven’t yet dropped all their leaves. The snow mounts on them, weighs down the branches and they can break. Many trees – particularly pear, crab apple and honeylocust – which still have a lot of leaves are in this susceptible category.

If you see snow accumulating and you can reach branches on smaller trees, use a broom handle to gently shake limbs so snow falls off. Start on the lowest branches. Otherwise, snow falling from higher onto lower branches just adds to their snow load that leads to breakage.

Don’t forget evergreens. Even though they stand tall winter after winter, in very heavy snows, their branches can also break. Keep an eye on them during heavy snows and shake their branches as well.

It's always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut.

Prune to prevent more storm damage and decay

High winds have already broken limbs in many areas this fall.  It’s always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut. Otherwise, torn limbs can invite pests and disease. This is one time when having an arborist, who really knows trees, do the work pays off for the long term.

Also be aware of “hangers” – limbs that may be damaged but are still “hanging by a thread.” They could fall at any time to damage property or injure people. Look up and play it safe.

What not to prune

Shrubs that flower early in the spring have already set the buds that will become pretty flowers. Avoid pruning lilac, dogwood, forsythia, viburnum and spirea in the fall as you will see fewer flowers next spring.

Remember the sprinkler system
If you have not yet winterized the sprinkler system, don’t delay. Freezing temps are ahead! Our guys can help you out in a pinch. Call Julie at (775) 827-5296 for a technician to drop by and take care of your system.

Why Do Leaves Turn Different Colors?

Leaves are loaded with chlorophyll, which makes them green. But all green plants also carry a set of chemicals called carotenoids. On their own, these look yellow or orange – carotenoids give color to corn and carrots, for example – but they’re invisible beneath the chlorophyllic green of a leaf for most of the year.

In the fall, when the leaves are nearing the end of their life cycle, the chlorophyll breaks down, and the yellow-orange is revealed.

“The color of a leaf is subtractive, like crayons on a piece of paper,” says David Lee, formerly of Florida International University, who has studied leaf color since 1973.

Most trees have evolved to produce a different set of chemicals, called anthocyanins, when it’s bright and cold in autumn. These have a reddish tint and are responsible for the color of a blueberry. They’re also sometimes made in newly sprouting leaves, which explains their sometimes reddish tint. Where chlorophyll and anthocyanins coexist, the color of a leaf may run to bronze, as in ash trees. At high enough concentrations, anthocyanins will make a leaf look almost purple, as in Japanese maples.

More drab autumn colors form as leaves really die and complete the breakdown of the chloroplasts. When they’re all dried out, the pigments link up together into what Lee calls a “brownish gunk.”

Have a burning horticultural question you’d like us to answer, email Steve Fine, at steve@siglands.com.

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Popular Science.

 

What’s the Deal with Fall Turf Aeration?

Why does Signature Landscapes believe so strongly in lawn aeration?

After proper watering, Aerating is the single most important thing you can do for a healthy lawn. Aeration promotes root growth and reduces water usage by getting oxygen and H20 into the root zone. Aerated soil will endure drought stress, fill in bare spots faster and resist insect and disease attack too.

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