The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder outside, reminding us that winter is heading our way faster than many of us would like.
With winter coming at us at full force, many of us are apt to forget some of those minor tasks associated with taking care of our lawn and garden.
So this week, I thought I would help remind homeowners of some of the tasks that they shouldn't skip when wrapping up their outdoor activities in the coming weeks.
By now, most of us are probably tired of mowing the grass. However, if your grass is still growing out in your yard, it needs to be cut. If you have recently planted any flowers, trees or shrubs, remember to water them thoroughly every week until the ground freezes. Once the leaves have started falling, don't forget to recycle them. You can do this by mowing the dry leaves into bits or raking them into a compost pile.
After all the leaves have fallen, you should take time to assess the condition of your trees and shrubs. At this time, you should only prune the dead or damaged limbs. If you need to prune your tree drastically, waiting until late winter or early spring. It is important to note that pruning at the wrong time of year will not kill a tree or shrub, but it might lead to problems. When deciding which trees need to be pruned, remember that topping a tree is not a good practice. If you do top a tree, it will cause numerous, fast-growing new shoots to develop that are much weaker and more susceptible to damage. If a large limb or tall tree needs pruned, it is best to call a professional.
Just like when you winterize your car, you need to winterize your outdoor lawn and garden equipment. You can do this by giving all your gardening tools a good thorough cleaning using steel wool scrubbing pads. Remember to use soap and water and to allow the tools to dry completely before storing them. If you would like to winterize your wooden tool handles, you can do this by rubbing a little linseed oil or similar protector over them. For those who like to be ready at the first sight of nice weather in the spring, then it is a good idea to go ahead now and sharpen your lawnmower blades.
For other outdoor equipment, such as sprayers, clean them out and let them dry before storing. Make sure that you clean the hoses and nozzles of the sprayer good so that they will not be clogged all winter and corrode from the chemical. Any unused fertilizer or pesticide should be stored appropriately by following the label on the container. Once you are done cleaning out the equipment, don't forget to take care of your garden hoses and sprinklers. It is best to let your hoses and sprinklers dry out before coiling them. While letting them dry out, take time to fix any leaky faucets and pipes around your house. This will save you money by preventing huge plumbing problems in the long run.
To assist with finishing up those last-minute outdoor tasks, you can seek information from your local Purdue Extension Office, including information on how to take a soil sample. Right now is a great time to collect your soil samples for testing. By doing this, you allow for plenty of time to receive your results and act on recommendations. Once you have your sample, a typical cost saving method is to take it to your local co-op or agri-center. When doing this, remind them the sample is from your yard or garden so that they can run the proper test and advise you on what needs to be done to help ensure you have a healthy yard and garden next spring.
Winter is fast approaching, but don't let the speed of its arrival deter you from doing your normal fall tasks. Remember to clean everything you used this summer thoroughly to help ensure you will be able to use them in the coming years. Take time to look at and prune minor things from trees and shrubs. And lastly, don't forget to take a soil sample to find out what condition this past summer has left your yard and garden in.
For more information on late fall yard and garden care or help on taking a soil sample, contact your local Purdue Extension Office by calling 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County.
If you would like to contact me directly, I can be reached at either of the two numbers listed or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Monday -- Owen County Ag Advisory Board Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, 6 p.m.,
* Thursday -- Clay County Ag Advisory Board Meeting, Clay County Extension Office, 6 p.m.,
* Oct. 17 -- Owen County Extension Board Annual Dinner, Owen County Fairgrounds (call for tickets),
* Oct. 19 -- 4-H Award Program Night, Owen County Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m., and
* Oct. 24 -- Wabash Valley Master Gardener Fall Happenings, Fairbanks Park, Terre Haute, 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. (call 812-877-2696 to register by Wednesday).