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Looking Forward

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With the hotter temperatures of  summer behind us, it’s a little more enjoyable to be out in the yard taking stock of what could be improved for next year. Whether it’s making your grass greener or installing that patio and fire pit, there are still plenty of days to get it done and come spring, this sweat equity will be worthwhile.

LAWNS AND PLANTS
Summer weather can take a toll on lawns. High temperatures and humidity can dry it out and homeowners’ first impulse is to turn on the sprinklers. Soil that never has a chance to dry out can foster fungus, which appears as brown patches, mushrooms and streaks.  

 “Fall is a great time to address any lawn issues you may have— bare spots, weed infestation—as it is the best time to renovate the lawn because of the cooler weather and the moisture in the morning,” says Chris Demato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing.

Rich Cording Sr., owner and founder of CLC Landscape Design, says homeowners should tackle regular lawn maintenance now. “Rake up dead grass, thatch and aerate, apply lime and fertilizer and you could even put in a completely new lawn,” he says. “It’s a great time from now until Nov. 1 to put down seed, or sod up until Thanksgiving.”

Michael Pasquarello, degreed landscape architect at Elite Landscaping, agrees. “The fall is probably the most ideal of all seasons to install sod as temperatures are favorable for varieties such as fescue, which is a cool season turf. Just be sure to not install too late into the season as to allow the sod to root in and become established prior to winter. We try not to sod much after Thanksgiving.”

Fall is ideal for anything, grass or other plants, getting established. “The soil is perfect for germinating plants. In the  fall it will take root and establish before the cold winter comes and it will lay dormant until the spring comes,” says Don Panetta, owner of D. Panetta Contracting.  

 “Cool soil encourages the roots to go deeper, and the sunny days  still allow for plenty of photosynthesis,” Cording adds. “Plants put in now are going to go dormant in the winter, which means less stress for them. People think May is the best time to plant, but in the past few years as a result of climate change, we get 90-degree days in June before the plants are established, and that stress can be harder for plants than dormancy.”

To ensure grass or plant success, don’t ignore fallen leaves, says Demato. “During the fall season it is also very important that  you clean the leaves off your property at least three to four times. This is a common mistake that homeowners make in waiting until the end of the fall season to clean their leaves. This can be very damaging to your lawn as  well as plant material.”

Mulch will also help to insulate roots for the winter. “After leaves fall and are raked, mulch should  be put down,” says Cording. “Once spring comes, that mulch will help hold down weeds. As it breaks down, it becomes an organic topsoil and adds enrichment. Plus, it will look sharp over the winter.”

This is also the season when yards display beautiful autumnal colors. “Mums are the typical go-to flower of the fall, however  there are many others,” Pasquarello says. “Celosia is a great selection as its plumes offer a great texture and colors capture the essence of fall. Ornamental peppers are another great addition for fall color interest. They come in an array of color palettes and most are even edible.”

Demato says another great mid-sized shrub to add to the yard would be a burning bush, which turns a brilliant red color throughout the fall season and adds a real pop of brightness to a garden.

AHEAD ON HARDSCAPING
If you have existing hardscaping areas, this is the time to address any repairs. “A minor repair, if let go until the spring, can turn into a major problem, particularly around pool areas,” Demato advises. “For example, if you have a small sunken area near a pool, that can result in ice settling below the surf ace. As the water builds up in the winter it can create a lot of pressure on pool walls and other structural foundations.”

As many landscaping businesses have noticed, the interest in outdoor  projects has skyrocketed during the pandemic. “With this COVID-19, most people are investing in their backyards. It’s your place to bring to life and make your backyard a staycation,” says Panetta.

While this is great news to keep these businesses going, it’s also harder to get on their schedule. “Typically, this is the time of year when we have some more openings in our schedule, but we’re almost all booked up,” says Cording.  

This makes the sense of urgency all the more important for homeowners to call now. “They can’t wait until the spring. Calling now means we can spend the rest of the year planning, designing, getting  the  permits, etc.,” he continues. “Don’t dilly-dally.”

RESOURCES
CLC Landscape Design
Ringwood, N.J.
(973) 839-6026
CLCDesign.com

D. Panetta
Contracting, LLC
Randolph, N.J.
(973) 659-9374
DPanettaContracting.com

Elite Landscaping
Berlin, N.J.
(856) 753-1944
(800) 582-6598
EliteLandscaping.com

Rock Bottom
Landscaping & Fencing
Belle Mead, N.J.
(732) 873-6780
RockBottomLandscaping.net

Select imagery courtesy of CLC Landscape Design, Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing, and D. Panetta Contracting.

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 21, Issue 2 (September 2020). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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