Fall is the time to collect and take advantage of your lawns greatest resource. Falling leaves should be treated as gold rather than raked into garbage bags for the landfill. Leaves provide valuable nutrients when they are decomposed properly, and may reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizer in some areas. Put them in a compost pile, or shred them and use them as mulch in your landscape beds. These leaves will greatly improve soil health. Do not allow leaves to remain on top of your turf grass. Even when dormant, grass needs to receive sunlight throughout the winter months to keep the root system alive. It is important to continue to water your landscape during the fall and winter months. Simply reduce the amount since plant growth is slower during this time.
Fall is also the time to plant. There are many plants that really put on a show in the fall months:
• Salvia greggii, also called autumn sage, is a super perennial that blooms from February until the first freeze, but saves its spectacular bloom until fall. Originally only available in pink, it now comes in many colors including red, purple, white and a two-color variety called “hot lips.”
• Fall aster grows 1-3 feet tall, and for most of the year looks like a small evergreen shrub. But as its name implies, it really puts on a show in the fall when it breaks out in a stunning bloom of daisy-like flowers with lavender-blue florets surrounding a yellow center. This plant is very drought tolerant and seldom needs any supplemental watering.
• Ox-blood lily is an old-fashioned bulb that sends up red blooms on bare stalks in the fall. Also called schoolhouse lily, mass plantings of these are very effective. You can see them in many of the older homes in Weatherford.