5 Smart Steps for a Winter-Ready Landscape

5 Smart Steps for a Winter-Ready Landscape

From football to festivals, outdoor activity comes alive in the fall. As you marvel at the magnificent fall color on your trees, remember that this is also a great time of year to prep your yard for the next growing season. Cooling temperatures slow above-ground growth while moist soil encourages strong root development. Removing spent stems, dead branches and heavy leaf cover protects plants' overall health.

Fall foliage in landscape

Here are five fall landscape tips from the certified arborists at The Davey Tree Expert Company to ensure your yard is ready for winter:


Fall tree planting
When planting trees, make sure the top of the root ball remains at, not below, ground level.

FALL LANDSCAPE TIP NO. 1: 5 Steps to Plant New Trees and Shrubs

In many parts of the country, planting trees and shrubs in early fall gives plants a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil.

  • Dig a hole (twice the diameter and to a depth of two inches less than the full height of the root ball).
  • Position the shrub in the hole (make sure the top of the root ball remains at, not below, ground level).
  • Fill in with soil and water to settle soil.
  • Add more soil to top of root ball (don't pack soil down with foot).
  • Properly mulch around the tree.
tree pruning
Proper tree pruning can save your landscape from damage during winter snow and winds.

FALL LANDSCAPE TIP NO. 2: Prune Dead, Diseased Or Unsafe Branches

  • Pruning is a cornerstone of any successful tree care program. Lifeless branches can succumb to winter snow and winds, endangering you and your home.
  • Cut cracked, loose and diseased limbs close to the trunk; leave wounds exposed to heal.
  • For big jobs, call a certified arborist.


FALL LANDSCAPE TIP NO. 3: Mulch Young Trees and Plants

  • High-quality, organic mulch helps keep organic matter in the soil around the tree, conserves soil moisture and provides weed control.
  • Organic mulch can be made of chopped leaves, weed-free straw or wood chips.
  • Cover the planting hole with one to two inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. But don't over mulch the tree or "volcano" mulch.  Keep the mulch two to three inches away from the trunk or the trunk will rot.
  • Apply it before the ground freezes.


FALL LANDSCAPE TIP NO. 4: Collect Leaves

  • To make fallen leaves easier to transport, rake them onto a plastic tarp.
  • Add leaf matter from the gutters and other lawn clippings to a compost bin. Flip the leaf pile every week with a garden fork to aerate; the "black gold" that results next year can be used to feed trees and shrubs.


FALL LANDSCAPE TIP NO. 5: Inspect Trees & Shrubs For Insects & Diseases, & Treat Appropriately

fall tree planting with mulch
Keep mulch two to three inches away from the tree trunk or trapped moisture will cause the trunk to rot.
  • Be on the lookout for Emerald Ash Borer, scale, mites, lace bugs or beetles. Insect and disease management is an important fall action to ensure healthy trees all year.

Always talk to a certified arborist, especially if you're seeing early fall color--you may have an issue!

Contact your local Davey professional with any tree service concerns as you enjoy your landscape this fall.  Download the Davey Tree fall checklist here for an on-the-go guide.

  • The Tree Doctor December 5, 2016 >Hi there, Kay! Great question - especially with this year's weather! And, you're in luck! Now is still a good time to prepare your trees for the coming winter. I've passed along your request to your local office, so they should be reaching out soon with next steps. If you'd prefer, you can contact your local arborist directly by calling 248.327.2161 or connecting online here: davey.com/local-offices/north-detroit-tree-service/#main-form. Talk more soon, Kay!
  • Kay Buckner-Seal November 29, 2016 >It's warm today, but it may be cold tomorrow. With the ups & downs in temperature in the area, I still have hydrangeas with leaves and flowers, and leaves are still clinging to the trees. Is it too late to prepare the trees in my beds for fall? If so, do you offer this service?
  • Caleb January 30, 2014 >These are great tips. The winter can take a tole on your yard if it is not prepared or taken care of for the winter months. Make sure to take these steps to help your lawn get through the winter.
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