By Patrick Troyer

Education specialist

Paulding SWCD

The leaves have changed colors and fallen, the air is getting cooler and winter will be here before we know it! The question is, is your yard ready for winter? With the fall season, there are several things that can be done to our landscaping and lawn to get them ready for the winter season. Follow along with this week’s column to prepare you with all the tips and tricks you need to know for the care of your lawn during the fall season.

During the fall, it is a good idea to carefully check trees for damaged branches. Take a look at the branches and look for any signs of damage or disease that may need taken care of in the early stages. By this time, trees have lost their leaves making it more convenient to check out the tree. Outdoor Living Today (OLT) advises that if you note any significant damage or disease, be sure to remove the branches.

One thing to make sure not to do in the fall is prune your trees. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, decay fungi will spread their spores prominently during the fall while trees appear to slow down the pace of healing wounds at this time leaving them prone to infection if pruning took place.

While you are inspecting your trees, take a look at the perennials that may be found in your landscaping or garden for damage or disease. OLT says to look for abnormal splits on the leaves along with any stems that may be rotting and to either remove the diseased branch, apply treatment or remove the plant altogether. Getting ahead of the damage or disease will ensure the overall health of your garden or landscaping and prevent further spread.

Cleaning out any debris during the fall season can prove quite beneficial as well. Whether it is crop residue in a farmer’s field or leaves in your landscaping, plant debris provides the perfect environment for many pests and disease agents to ride out the winter.

Safewise advises clearing out the flowerbeds and paying special attention to rose beds because their vegetation can provide a place for pathogens to ride out the winter.

Along with clearing plant debris from the landscaping, it is a good idea to rid your garden of the same debris. Safewise says to remove old plants and debris, and run your tiller through the garden to work the soil. Fall is a good time to add the compost you have been saving up all year and spread it on your garden as a natural fertilizer for the soil.

At this time of the year, if you have a large amount of trees in your yard, chances are that your yard is covered with leaves. The key is to not let them lay on the grass for too long as it can eventually damage grass. The best advice is to stay ahead of the game as much as possible. Rake your leaves and then shred them into fine pieces to use as a natural mulch on your garden or flowerbeds.

Want to plant some trees? North Dakota State University Extension (NDSUE) writes that fall can be a good time to plant trees as the cooler temperatures allow the new trees to get used to their new environment compared to hot air and soil temperatures. Your first thought with this idea is that the selection at the nursery may be slim; however, you may be lucky enough to find many species marked down in the fall.

The key with tree selection, just as in the spring, is to make sure you are selecting a species that will be able to survive in our soils and our climatic conditions. Should you need advice in this area, be sure to contact the Paulding Soil & Water Conservation District office.

If you are planting in the fall, NDSUE recommends using tree tubes to not only protect the young tree from animal damage but also to protect them from winter sunscald.

Fall is the season for planting bulbs, shrubs and even fall annuals. According the Safewise, fall is the time to get those bulb plants in the ground with cool temperatures and plenty of moisture to get the plant started.

Fall annuals allow some color to still dot your landscaping while other plants are preparing to go dormant, according to Safewise. Try chrysanthemums as a good fall annual that adds gorgeous color to your fall décor. Check out your local nurseries for availability.

Fall is truly a beautiful time to enjoy the outdoors and watch as nature undergoes several changes as it prepares for the coming winter. Get out to observe these changes and getting your landscaping ready to go for a winter’s rest. As always, contact the Paulding SWCD office with any natural resource questions that you may have!