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Q & A with Our Experts

Q.Why is fall the most important time to fertilize my lawn?

A.One reason is that guidance from the University of Maryland Extension Service specifically states that fall is the most important time to feed turfgrass lawns. Their reasoning in this matter is based on a lawn’s critical nutrient needs at this time. First, the lawn needs the nutrients to repair and restore wear and tear on the lawn from the stresses of the spring/summer growing season. Secondly, the nutrients are needed to help build up the grass’s sugar sap stores which will be converted to complex carbohydrates (starch) for winter storage. In the spring, these stored starches are converted back to sugar sap, which is essential to propel new lawn growth in the spring.

Q.Are bulbs for spring-blooming flowers planted in the fall?

A.If you mean flowers such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths; yes, they must be planted during the fall months to insure they come up and bloom on schedule in the spring. The reason for this important timing is that bulbs are special units containing the germ which is the embryonic plant and a large storage area of starch to feed the emerging plant in the spring until it can feed itself when the green leaves finally appear. The bulbs of these plants are required by Nature to experience at least a 12-week period of “chill” (soil temperatures below 50°F) which is the stimulus needed to instruct the bulb to produce a flower. Normally, planting bulbs under the soil will insure they will receive that required soil temperature range.

Q.Is it all right to prune back my shrubs in the fall?

A.Most horticulturists would recommend that you do your pruning of shrubs in early spring, rather than in the fall. This is because early spring is just before most plants begin to put out new green top-growth and foliage. Also, be cautious not to severely prune back any broadleaf shrubs that keep their green foliage year-round. Nature has a purpose for them to retain all or most of their green leaves through the winter.

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