A Primer on Fall Tree Maintenance

Your trees successfully take care of themselves all summer long, but once the autumn air begins cooling down and winter threatens a soon-coming frost, it’s time to give them some proper attention—attention that goes much further than simply raking the leaves.

Fall tree maintenance should be an important part of your fall landscaping regimen. Read on to find out how to care for your trees when the weather starts to cool down.

Pre-Winter Maintenance for Your Trees

Rake up leaves, fallen fruit, twigs, and other debris from around the base of your trees. Leaving this organic matter to decay around the base of the tree can draw insects and possibly promote fungal or bacterial growths on the bark.

Prune your trees during the fall. Remove all dead, damaged, and diseased branches with pruning shears or a saw, depending on the size of the branches. This will also help keep pests and disease from overrunning or infecting the tree. Since dead or dying branches can be hazardous if they fall, you should do this for safety reasons.

You can also prune a tree in the fall to help shape it. Be careful how much you cut away, as this can affect flowering the following spring.

Watering and Fertilization

Wait to fertilize your trees until just before or directly after the first frost. Fertilizing trees too early in the fall can cause a burst of growth. The freezing temperatures can then damage the fledging growth and kill it before it matures.

Stop watering your trees in the fall until the majority of their leaves have fallen off. As with fertilizing, this can cause new growth to form on the tree, which cold winter weather can severely damage. You can resume watering your trees once the leaves have all dropped until the ground freezes. Since evergreen trees never lose their leaves or needles, take your cue from the surrounding deciduous trees regarding when to stop and resume watering.

Keep your trees toasty warm and protected from the elements by wrapping the trunks with burlap or special tree wrapping. By doing so, you can help protect the tree from extreme temperatures and winter sun scorch. This holds especially true for younger trees, which are still very delicate.

Only wrap the trunk of the tree from the ground to the lowest branch. If you live in a cold climate and you have trees with shallow root systems, cover the ground around the tree with roughly six inches of mulch to help protect the roots. Make sure that the mulch is at least six inches away from the base of the tree. Otherwise, the mulch could retain too much moisture and promote rot and pest infestation.

Plant a tree! That’s right – fall is an excellent time to plant most trees. Strive to plant trees roughly six weeks before the first hard frost. Getting your new tree in the ground at this time will help ensure that its roots establish themselves before the next growing season. Caring for your trees during the fall is an important way to keep them thriving, so ensure you take the proper steps each season to keep yours standing tall.

Perfecting Your Front Yard Landscape

Do you care more about how you look from the front than from the back? Most people pay more attention to how people view them from the front. Women beautify their faces with makeup; men shave and dress to their liking and people generally want to make a good first impression when people look at them.

Your front yard is the “face” of your home. It gets the most visibility and represents the style and charm of the entire home. If the front yard is beautiful, one will expect the entire yard including the home to be equally as spectacular.

While the backyard landscape is important to beautifying a home, the front yard is equally if not more important because it is seen by every person who drives by, walks by or visits your house. The front yard is less functional and geared more towards the aesthetic because it is so visible. For this reason, it is wise to think about landscape design that matches the beauty of the home and takes it up a notch on the sophisticated scale.

Want to make a great front yard first impression? Here are some ways to do it:

Special Features

Depending on your personal style, choose special features to enhance the look of your home. Flower beds provide color, interest, and an overall welcoming feeling. Surround flower beds with decorative elements or borders, and build walls with pavers to keep the sections clean and manicured.

Walkways are another great choice to add interest and style to a front yard landscape. Use flagstone or pebbles to lead people from the front to the back yard or around the side of the house. Add a formal walkway leading to the front door and flowers to both sides to allow a visitor to feel like he/she is making a grand entrance.

Fences

Fences are a great way to add another level of security to your home while adding an aesthetically beautiful element. If you have pets or children, or you want to plant climbing foliage, the fence is a solid choice.

Lighting

Lighting puts the icing on the cake and elevates your front yard from normal to fabulous in seconds. It also promotes a secure house at night and wards off intruders.

Look closely at the natural light of the moon before you make your lighting selections. The moon emits a soft illumination and casts shadows in different areas. Try to imitate this glow with your lighting and avoid spotlighting anything too heavy even if it is a central feature. Study how the moon illuminates through trees and across flowers and bushes and continues that same light to unlit areas.

Brighter Illumination

Pay attention to certain areas that may necessitate brighter lighting. Focal points such as large oak trees and decorative elements will “pop” with stronger illumination. Walkways, paths and driveways will also need brighter lighting so visitors and household members can park and walk easily to the door without struggling to see.

As long as your front yard is safe, the sky’s the limit with what you can do. Remember to keep it clean, manicured and stylish. Avoid excess clutter and add the design elements that will make it stand out from the crowd.

Is Your Landscape Lighting Polluting Others?

When we think of pollution the first thought that comes to mind is highways, Los Angeles, airports, smog and major cities. Yet, outside of the air we breathe, pollution can come in many other forms.

Have you ever wondered if your landscape lighting was causing a safety hazard? Is the glare from your lighting hedging into your neighbor’s property?

Many homeowners are unaware of how their lights are affecting others. Improperly installed lighting fixtures can send unwanted beams into a neighbor’s yard or result in a safety hazard if glare spills over onto streets or in other places it shouldn’t be.

Below are the three categories of lighting pollution:

  • Sky Glow – Sky glow is light that is focused upwards toward the sky and wastes precious power since it is not illuminating any landscape surface. This type of lighting pollution does not contribute any safety features to the landscape such as lighting walkways or porches.
  • Glare – Glare is the byproduct of intense lighting. This pollution can create unsafe conditions for people walking on your property or for drivers if the glare is focused towards the road.
  • Light Trespass – Light trespass occurs when light intended to illuminate a particular area spills over into your neighbor’s property where it doesn’t belong.

If you intend on eliminating the lighting pollution around your home, it may be wise to hire a professional. Your landscape lighting should highlight specific areas without illuminating unwanted spaces. A trained contractor will understand the range of glare and how to maximize your power without creating unwanted safety hazards.

Electrical contractors understand how to position lights not only maximize power, but also to avoid any potentially hazardous conditions. A landscape lighting expert will map out your design paying attention to the focal points while pinpointing where the lights should focus. A professional will know how to offer you the design you desire without sacrificing safety and a distraction-free environment for your neighbors.

Here are a few solutions to lighting pollution:

  • Stick to specific areas – Landscape lighting should enhance, not completely illuminate your design. Too much light is overwhelming and the glare will contribute to pollution. Sometimes, the “less is more” approach works wonders.
  • Selective power – You do not need to light your landscape all hours of the night. You can turn off your lights in the late hours of the evening and turn them back on at dusk the next day. Reserve your lighting for activities that take place in your yard or for special times that necessitate it.
  • Low Voltage Lighting – Any reduction in wattage will do its job to reduce light pollution. Low voltage fixtures provide enough lighting to highlight your beautiful landscape and light your porch and walkways without wasting power on bright lighting.

Creating a safe and courteous environment with your landscape lighting design is a valiant and worthwhile effort. Do your part to reduce lighting pollution and create the landscape of your dreams without negatively affecting your lives or the lives of the people surrounding you.