Q: Now that fall is here and winter is approaching, how should I prepare my lawn, shrubs and gardens?
Answer: Good question. Your first stop might be the Hillsborough County Gardening Calendar (or you can stop by the Extension Service and meet with a Master Gardener on duty). The gardening calendar lists month by month “to do’s,” including fertilization, planting, propagating, pruning, soil testing, when to spray roses, adjust your irrigation timer, etc. You can access this calendar at the following link: http://hillsborough.ifas.ufl .edu/documents/pdf/lawn_ garden/Gardening%20Calen dar-Monthbymonth.pdf.
Speaking of “to do” lists, either you love them or hate them. Personally, I love lists. I have lists in my work office, my home office, car, on the nightstand and the kitchen counter. The last thing I am is listless! I find writing down things I need to take care of calming. And, if it isn’t written down chances are I won’t remember it … at least not on a timely basis.
So, for those of you who love lists, here’s my list of things to do for fall:
Water less: Decrease landscape irrigation frequency. Consider turning off your irrigation time clock and watering only when plants need water. Better yet, attend a Water-Wise Workshop at the Extension Service and receive a microirrigation kit that uses less water, applies water where plants need it (at the root zone) and does not lose water to evaporation.
Mulch more: Mulch retains soil moisture, regulates soil temperature, adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes and is prettier than sand. Mulch should be 3 inches deep after it settles.
Feed: Fertilize citrus trees now. Use fertilizer specifically for citrus and lightly water it in.
Plant: You can plant fall vegetables (beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, peas, radish, spinach, turnips and more). It’s a great time to plant shrubs and trees that are cold-hardy. November is the last month to plant strawberries.
Insect control: Check for pests and handle accordingly. There are many environmentally safe pest solutions available.
Divide and conquer your perennials: Dig and replant in your own landscape, or dig and gift plants to a special friend or neighbor.
Relocate houseplants: If they were outside for the summer and fall, it’s time to bring them inside before temperatures dip below 55 degrees.
Teach my cats to vacuum: But I digress! I still have not been able to master this task.
SAVE THE DATE: Feb. 15 is Florida-Friendly Landscaping 101 at Hillsborough Community College, sponsored again by the City of Tampa Water Department. The agenda will be on our website when finalized: http://hillsborough.ifas .ufl.edu. Hope to see you then or before!
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension.. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.