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Fall clean up in the air

Compost starter — Fall leaves are a great way to start a compost pile. © Fotolia

Compost starter — Fall leaves are a great way to start a compost pile. © Fotolia

The nature of each season has distinct sounds, smells and scenes.

This time of year, wind rustles crisp leaves from trees and scurries them along the ground. The fragrance of fall is the rich, earthy aroma of decaying plants. Perhaps best of all are the scenic reds, golds and other colors of the season.

These natural displays signal that time is running short for end-of-the-season tasks. Here are some tips:

  • Complete transplanting perennials, spring bulbs, trees and shrubs. You want to make sure roots have to take hold before the ground freezes.
  • Make sure to water newly planted perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs. Continue watering new transplants until the ground freezes. It does not hurt to give existing trees and shrubs a couple of good soakings before winter, especially if we have little or no rain.
  • Don’t allow large leaves, such as maple and sycamore, to accumulate on the lawn. Leaves smother the grass. Rake up and compost the leaves or chop them into tiny bits with a mulching mower and leave them on the ground. For tips on making compost, download this pamphlet from Virigina Tech: Making Compost from Yard Waste.
  • November is the second most important month for fertilizing the lawn. For more info, download the Purdue University publication Fertilizing Established Lawns .
  • Pull annuals and vegetable plants from the landscape as they deteriorate or get damaged by frosts. Cut back perennials as they start to look bad. Leave a few plants upright for winter enjoyment and to feed the birds.
  • Remove and destroy any debris from around plants that had insect or disease problems.
  • Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost, rotted manure, chopped leaves or other organic matter directly to the soil around perennials.

For more details, visit the Hoosier Gardener’s November checklist .

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