Fall is in the air; you can see it on people's faces and feel it in the temperature. Plants and trees are also eagerly preparing for the beautiful fall weather. The temperature alerts them of the coming season, and they slowly begin to change. Perhaps you've been putting off maintenance on your landscape for the summer; maybe it's because it needs some major cleanup. We all get busy sometimes with school and life, and it can be easy to let your landscape go. Plants get overgrown, and shrubs can die. But it's not too late to get your landscape in shape. Great gardeners know, a good Fall landscape makes for a fantastic Spring landscape. That's right, getting your plants in the ground during the Fall season can get you ahead of the game for spring. Spring brings lots of people to the garden world, and there is usually a rush on just about everything. This year, you can be enjoying the spring weather and your landscape instead of facing the dread of getting your landscape into shape. While others are rushing around, you can be enjoying your new landscape. Today, I want to give you a few pointers for reducing maintenance during the Fall to prepare you for spring. Remove overgrown fast-growing monsters In the landscape design world, we often see homeowners with large, fast-growing shrubs planted way to close to the home. These monsters cause more than the foundation damage. They also cause emotional harm to the man or woman who has to prune them. Even pruning rarely brings these behemoths down to a beautiful addition to your home. Then, just the thought of having to do it again in the Spring is enough to make you not want to prune them at all. This year, get these fast-growing monsters out of your landscape. But don't go too far. As a landscape designer here in Hunstville, AL, I often see large shrubs or trees planted in the right places. A great example is a Crepe Myrtle planted on each corner of the home. They must be away from the house far enough where they are not rubbing the overhang. As long as they aren't, you can leave them as great additions to your landscape. Holly bushes, or those pesky shrubs with the thorn leaves, are usually a guaranteed removal. Unless planted along your fence in the back yard providing privacy, I would most likely select them for removal. A landscape designer can help you with this decision if you are not sure. Consider hardwood mulch It's popular in the Huntsville and Madison areas for people to use pine bark mulch instead of hardwood. Most people don't realize the benefits of hardwood versus pine bark. Although both mulches' have their downsides, I'm sure you will see why we prefer hardwood for lower maintenance. Hardwood sits on the ground much heavier than pine bark. As such, it takes a lot more water force to get it to wash out of the beds. Pine bark, because it has air pockets in the nuggets, will float naturally when water gets under it. Pine bark is also fragile and breaks down much faster than hardwood. Leaving you to have to replace or add more almost every four months. Hardwood mulch is known for having mushrooms grow up in it if the area doesn't drain well. However, good drainage prevents this completely. The mushrooms can also tell you where you are experiencing heavy water sitting around your home. Pine bark is also known for attracting termites because of its thin nature. Whereas hardwood can get termites, but it is not an attraction for them. They are more likely to go after your house then your hardwood mulch. Get excess water out of your landscape Downspouts and overhangs can bring hundreds of square feet of water into your landscape beds. Then it can cause weeds to grow and your mulch to be pushed out. Not to mention the damage it can cause to your foundation. Take the time this Fall to select a proper drainage system. Proper drainage could include; getting gutters on the overhangs of your home, or piping the downspouts from your gutter system away from your landscape. A proper drainage system can drastically decrease the amount of maintenance needed every year. Finally Don't let your landscape overwhelm you. If you attack the big things causing you so much grief, you will have more time to focus on the small things to make your landscape look great. Reducing maintenance in the Fall will make for a much more relaxing Spring season. Maybe you'll even get to plant some annuals.
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