Preparing for Snow Removal

There are several kinds of snow removal

With winter less than a month away, the time for snow removal is upon us. Taking it away quickly and efficiently can help keep your family safe from falls and make your landscape look tidier. There are several different common ways that you can remove snow from your landscape. 

Choose Your Snow Removal Method


When I was in college, I was on the landscaping crew. During the winter we would get called in around 3:30 am after a night of snowfall so we could clear the sidewalks before students arrived. We mostly used shovels to push away the snow. 

This can be a cheap and effective method indeed. You do want to get a good quality shovel, as it would be frustrating for it to break while you are trying to work. This also takes exertion, of course, which can be great if you are looking for some exercise. Do be careful, though; wear good gripping shoes, lift with bent knees as needed, check with a doctor if you have existing health concerns or are older, and take breaks. The National Safety Council mentions these and other tips in their Snow Shoveling safety sheet.


Another popular method for clearing sidewalks and other areas is through the use of chemicals, many of which are salts. These react with the snow and lower the melting temperature, effectively removing it as the snow and ice melt away and the water dissipates. These can be harsh on the roads, cars, plants and other objects found in the area, so consider that point when deciding.


If you have a large yard, a snowblower may be quite helpful. These pick up the snow and blow it away from the area you are trying to clear. It does not really work on parts that have turned to ice, so you will still You will also need to perform maintenance at least yearly to make sure the engine and other parts stay in good working condition and the machines are not inexpensive. Always follow proper safety protocols!

How do you do snow removal in your landscape?

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Winter Protection for Shrubs Should Be Placed in Fall

Prep your shrubs during fall to help the, survive during the winter.

With only a little over a month left before winter officially sets in, plants are slowing down their growth and heading into dormancy. This process helps protect them from the ravages of snow and freezing temperatures, but you can help them survive better. Now is the time to do tasks like adding winter protection for shrubs.

What Can You Do for Winter Protection for Shrubs?

One problem that you can run into in your garden is sun scald. This occurs when temperatures warm up enough during the day to promote growth in the cambium area of the bark. When the weather dips down again as night falls, these sections of newer growth may become damaged. You can help the shrub avoid this problem by protecting the bark through the use of products like tree wrap. You do want to make sure that they are not dark in color as you want to have the light be deflected instead of absorbed.

Another common way to protect your shrubs, especially if they are evergreens, is to wrap them with burlap or place sheets of that fabric on poles around the plant to create a screen. This will help shield the plant from problems like temperature fluctuations, salt spray (from deicing products), wind burn and ice or snow. Gently bring the branches together as possible towards the middle and wrap the burlap around it. Remove it promptly in the spring when the temperatures start to warm up.

How do you protect your shrubs in the winter?

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Plant Your Spring Flowering Bulbs in the Fall

Snowdrops are one type of spring flowering bulb

When I think of spring, flowers like snowdrops and crocuses come to mind. These are some of the earliest plants to produce blossoms and will help signal that winter is almost over. However, you need to plant your spring flowering bulbs during fall to make sure they will start growing properly.

Why Are Spring Flowering Bulbs Planted in the Fall?

At first glance, it would seem natural to plant bulbs much like you would seeds, placing them at the start of spring. However, these plants have evolved so that they need a period of cold weather to happen before they will start growing. They have spent the previous summer storing up nutrients for this event and will be ready to go when the weather starts to warm up.

You can achieve this naturally by choosing the sites where you would like them to appear in the spring and planting them now. The depth needed will vary by species and the package should tell you how to perform this task.

What Are Some Popular Spring Flowering Bulbs to Try?

There are a wide variety of colors and shapes available when it comes to these types of bulbs. They bloom at different periods throughout the season, so try getting a variety that spans across spring to extend the color possibilities. Some common options are:

  • Allium
  • Anemone
  • Crocus
  • Daffodil
  • Freesia
  • Hyacinth
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Paperwhite
  • Snowdrop
  • Tulip

What is your favorite kind of spring flowering bulb to plant?

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Fall Fertilizing Should Be Done by November 30th


One of the garden tasks that can be done at this time of year is fertilization. It can help your grass and other plants get the nutrients they need to have good new growth and prepare for dormancy in winter. However, you do not want to do it too late in the year. Your fall fertilizing should be completed by the end of November at the latest to avoid problems.

Why Is There a Deadline for Fertilization?

When a plant is given fertilizer, new growth is encouraged and enhanced since they have access to necessary nutrients. This can be a good process, of course, as you try to help your garden flourish. However, if tender new shoots appear and they are hit by frost and otherwise chilly temperatures, damage or even death of the plant (if extensive enough) can occur. Allowing time for the fertilizer to work and the plant to get new growth started will contribute to a higher success rate in your garden.

A good average cutoff date for fall fertilizing in this area (New York) is November 30th. Your grass won’t be trying to put out new shoots in the dead of winter when it is coldest and should have enough time to get a good start. If you do miss this deadline, simply wait until the temperatures start to warm up again in spring.

Give us a call today to get an appointment for your garden fertilizing needs this fall!

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Winterize Your Sprinkler System as Part of Your Fall Garden Task List

Use your sprinkler shut off valve when you winterize your sprinkler system

Now that the temperatures are starting to drop and your supplemental watering needs are dropping, it is time to winterize your sprinkler system. This is an essential step to keep it in good working condition for years to come.

Why Should You Winterize Your Sprinkler System?

Every year during fall, you need to empty all of the water out of your sprinkler pipes before freezing weather hits. If there is still liquid present during a cold spell, it can turn into ice, expanding in the process. When it thaws, it will contract and reduce in size. This phenomenon can result in the pipes bursting from the stress, especially if they are made from PVC. This would be a very unwelcome surprise when you turn it back on in the spring as you would need to take time and money to find the leaks and repair the system.

How Do You Winterize Your Sprinkler System?

Note: Since this procedure can involve a lot of water at high pressures, you need to follow safety procedures like wearing goggles and staying a safe distance away. We would also be happy to help you complete this process if you like.

Winterizing your sprinkler system can sometimes be as simple as manually letting the water drain out if your garden has been designed for it, but in many cases, you will need to blow out the system to ensure that all of the water is out. An air compressor is used and you keep the control valves open so that you do not break the pipes.  You can see details on the procedure in this article from Rainbird. Be very careful when doing this process to keep yourself safe and the system undamaged.

Have you winterized your sprinkler system yet?
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You Can Still Reseed Your Lawn in the Middle of Autumn

Reseed your lawn during the fall season

It really is amazing how much garden work you can still get done even at this time of year. For example, you can reseed your lawn throughout much of fall. You would not want to wait until the very end as the new seedlings will likely not have time to become established before winter settles in, but you can still get some new grass started this weekend.

Why Would You Need to Reseed Your Lawn Anyways?

Grass goes through a lot through the different seasons. It faces traffic, mowing, diseases, weeds, weather and other problems. These can cause some areas of your lawn to thin out or even become bare. Sometimes the damage is so extensive that it is easier to just scrap what is left and start over, but many times you can improve your existing grass by planting some new grass seeds.

Start by removing any weeds that may be present as much as possible. This will allow the newly germinated seeds to grow better since they will not have to compete for resources like nutrients, light and water. It will also, of course, help improve the look and health of your lawn.

Once you have taken out weeds, mow your lawn to get it ready for seeding. This will help ensure that the new seeds will be able to easily reach the ground and not be too shaded. The directions on the bag of your chosen grass seed type (it can be the kind present or a similar season type that will complement and improve your lawn) will let you know how much you will need to cover your area. Sow the seeds and cover lightly with some soil, taking care to only add a little and not smother the present grass.

After a few days of keeping the ground moist (not soaking wet) throughout the day, your new grass seed should begin to germinate. Within a few weeks it should be nicely established and making your lawn more vibrant.

When do you plan to reseed your lawn? Give us a call if you would like help patching up your grass.

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Add Some Annuals for Fall Color in Your Landscape

Hardy mums are an annual that adds fall color

While many plants have stopped blooming by now and the leaves are changing colors or otherwise dying off, there are some that you can add now to keep your landscape beautiful. Many of the cool season loving plants can be planted in the fall, also. Try adding some of these annuals for fall color in your garden.

Hardy Mums

These plants can be either annual or perennials depending on your location and when you plant them. The proper term for these plants that can go either way is tender perennial. Since these are being planted in the fall, they will most likely just grow as an annual and die off when the cold weather comes.


I love seeing pansies used as a fall annual.  I sometimes still see them blooming amid snowdrifts and they may even last until spring and start blooming again. Over the years, nurseries and other plant specialists have been able to breed new varieties that are able to handle cold temperatures better. There are so many different colors available that you could add a whole rainbow of pansies each autumn.


These trumpet-shaped blossoms can also help add splashes of color to your garden. They can have either single or double petals and are suitable for use in pots, as a groundcover and around your planting beds, depending on the kind you choose. One type that is especially successful in the fall is the Wave petunia.


These are definitely one of my favorite annuals to plant. They can be up to 3′ tall (check the label to see how tall each kind will be) and the beautiful flowers add a pleasant fragrance to your landscape.

What are your favorite annuals for fall color?

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Renovate Your Planting Beds This Autumn

Visit your local garden center to get ready for renovating your planting beds

While the temperatures are cooler and you are naturally getting some more water in your garden via rainstorms, why not try to renovate your planting beds? Autumn is a great time to place some new plants and reinvigorate your landscape. This is especially true if some of your existing ones were unfortunately damaged during the heat and dryness of summer.

What Can You Plant in Autumn?

There are many different types of plants that you can add to your planting beds during fall. For example, most species of trees and shrubs can be safely planted in the fall. They can use this time of mild weather to get their root structure started in the ground and get ready for the coming dormancy period of winter.

Do check with your garden center before planting to be sure that it will do well if planted during the fall as some kinds do better when they are As the Morton Arboretum notes, these include “bald cypress, American hornbeam, ginkgo, larch, magnolia, hemlock, sweetgum, tuliptree, and willow…and many types of evergreens”

You can also freshen up your planting beds with some new perennials and annuals. Though annuals will not usually last more than a few months or weeks, it will definitely help add color to your planting beds and extend the gardening season before the botanical world gets quieter in winter.

Finally, this is the time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs like crocuses, daffodils and tulips. They need to go through a period of cold in order to be triggered properly when the temperatures start to warm after winter.

How are you renovating your planting beds this autumn?

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Continue to Water Your Lawn in Autumn

You need to still water your lawn even in fall

As the temperatures cool down and rainstorms start appearing, you may think that you can just turn off the sprinklers and not worry about your grass any more. However, you should indeed keep them on and water your lawn as needed in autumn.

Why Water Your Lawn in Fall?

Autumn is a great time for growth in your garden. Many grasses that are used for lawns are cool season (for example, Kentucky bluegrass and fescue,) so they enjoy the milder temperatures present at this time. Plants will produce some new growth and roots as they prepare for winter. It is important that your grass receives adequate nutrients and water during this time.

While the rains that start to fall more frequently during this season will help take care of your plant’s needs, it is important to make sure that they are consistently watered every week. If you depend solely on precipitation, there may be weeks with little or no rain and your lawn will be left thirsty during this important period of growth.

How Much Should I Water?

This will depend, of course, on how rainy this fall proves to be. During summer the general rule is about an inch per week, but the grass will start to need less in the weeks before winter arrives.  Watch the weather forecasts to get an idea of what the coming days may bring. Keep a rain gauge in your landscape so that you can see how much is actually falling on your lawn.

Adjust your sprinklers as needed so that you do not accidentally overwater your grass. You may, in the end, not need to water much or at all, but it is better to be prepared for the possibility and help your lawn stay as healthy as possible.

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Do a Fall Sprinkler System Check

 When doing a fall sprinkler check, make sure the sidewalks aren't getting watered too.

As you contemplate the tasks needed to keep your lawn in the best shape this season, include a fall sprinkler system check to assess the current condition and make sure that it is in proper working order before you turn it off for winter.

Check for Broken Sprinkler Heads

It is natural that some of your sprinkler heads may be broken by the end of the growing season. Sometimes a lawn mower can catch on them. People walking across a lawn can accidentally kick them and sometimes even deliberately break them. Use your fall sprinkler system check to replace any that are damaged and make sure it is in the best shape before you shut it down for the season.

Adjust Sprinkler Head Directions

Sometimes sprinkler heads can be turned around by lawn mowers and kids, among other things. You may find that you are watering the sidewalk instead of your grass. This, of course, just serves to waste water, create slip hazards and take away the moisture that your grass needs.

Take a day and note exactly where the sprinklers are hitting while they are on. Depending on your sprinklers, a little may still fall outside of our lawn, but it should not be widespread. You can use these observations to make any adjustments needed to get your system back on track.

Evaluate Your Watering Times

Your grass will not need the same amount of watering throughout every season. Summer is naturally when you will need the most water since the weather is hotter and drier than other times in the year. In spring and fall, rain is more likely to fall and lessen the need for any additional water from sprinklers. Adjust your settings accordingly to water less frequently, ultimately turning them off at the end of the season.

What do you do as part of your fall sprinkler system check?

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