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Wondering what to do with your landscape or lawn now that things are turning brown?

November is the time to prepare your landscape for dormancy so that you can maximize your spring and summer growth. In Minnesota, we have enjoyed the lush green colors of a great summer, which have turned to brilliant colors this fall, but those colors are now turning brown. So, now what?

  • Soil – In Minnesota, we recommend that aerating be done in the fall, and dethatching in the early spring, after the first mowing. Not all lawns are in need of either treatment. Consult a local lawn company for their advice. Aerating is a technique that removes small amounts of dirt (plugs) from the ground in order to loosen up the soil and to allow roots to expand and breathe. This is especially helpful for dense soils and high-traffic areas. Dethatching, or power-raking, is a technique that removes the under layer of dead material from your lawn, further promoting new growth for grass.
  • Lawn – We recommend that your final cut of the year be somewhere between 2.5-3″. This is a little longer than the 1″-2″ that most people cut their Kentucky Bluegrass or Rye grass. The extra length will provide insulation for the grass during sudden cold snaps, while also preventing snow mold. As always, you should follow the 1/3 rule – Cut only the top third of your grass at any time in order to reduce stress on the grass and to keep pace with the rate of natural decomposition.
  • Leaves – Leaves can be a natural fertilizer for your lawn. If you have less than 2″ of dead leaves covering your lawn, you can mulch them by making multiple passes with your lawn mower. This works well in large areas where raking would otherwise be overwhelming. Aesthetically, this might not be as favorable, but give it a couple days and the small leaf particles will begin to quickly blend and decompose.
  • Trees – Fall can be a great time to trim trees while there is less foliage congestion to worry about. While most trees can be trimmed successfully throughout the year, Oaks risk “Oak Wilt” which can be avoided by trimming them November-February. Fruit trees also risk infection and disease if trimmed outside of the months of February and April. It is further recommended that you never remove more than 1/4 of the overall foliage.
  • Perennials – Deadheading is a technique where you remove faded flowers from the perennial throughout the growing season.  When this is done most perennials will bloom again because doing so promotes new growth. But in the fall, when new growth has ceased, trimming perennials down is acceptable, but not always necessary. (Research your specific variety for more information). When cutting down perennials in the fall, it’s best to leave at least 2″ to allow new buds in the spring. Ornamental grasses can be left tall throughout the winter time for a beautiful winter appeal. Then cut them back in the early spring to prepare for new growth.