Pointers for fall planting

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall is here and the calls are coming in about planting everything from grass to fruit trees for the winter season and next spring.

Planting in the fall is different for each species and depending on each purpose. In many cases it has benefits but in some it has adverse affects as well. Let me address these questions now and save some of you from making decisions you may regret in a few months.

Q. How can I help keep my yard green all winter long?

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A. There is nothing more attractive than a pretty well manicured lawn in the middle of winter when all your neighbors’ lawns are brown. Starting in the next several weeks summer turf species will begin going dormant as temperatures slowly decline.

For many of us this is a good thing as mowing and maintenance chores begin to decline. However for those of you homeowners that are committed to having that beautiful lawn year round and do not mind the additional financial obligations along with maintenance needs then planting rye grass will certainly allow you to stay a step ahead.

Rye grass will continue to provide a lush green lawn well into next spring. However keep in mind mowing, watering, fertilizing and all current lawn care needs will need to be continued as well.

Planting rye grass will also delay your warm season grasses from reemerging early in the spring which will make your permanent lawn slower in reaching it’s spring growth spurt.

Therefore, for the average homeowner I would recommend you just be thankful for the lawn you have and enjoy maintaining it during the spring and summer and take the maintenance vacation when you can. If you miss mowing you can always make a few cuttings throughout the winter to help keep your lawn looking neat even in the colder months.

Q. When is the time to plant fruit trees?

A. Fruit trees are best when planted from late October through early December. If you are planning on planting some new trees and have not decided what to plant yet, I would begin visiting your garden center of choice and checking what options you will have available.

Mail order sources are growing in popularity which may allow some of you to get a hold of the rare fruit trees that can often be hard to find.

Many of you are replanting because your old fruit trees are dying after a long life of productivity. I would encourage you to plant your new trees at least 10 feet away from where the old tree was planted to reduce the risk of any soil diseases or insect pressures that may potentially exist.

Remember that fruit trees need full sun and well-drained soil when planting them. Incorporate rich organic matter into the planting hole, and dig a hole that is at least three times larger than the root ball of the new tree. Never plant a tree any deeper than it was originally grown at the nursery.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extensions Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.