In this Article: 10 Ways To Care For Your Shrubs This Fall we help you prepare for the harsh winter months ahead. Fall is the time to take stock of your shrubs’ health and prep them for the winter ahead, especially if you live in a colder climate. Most homeowners take for granted that their trees and shrubs will be healthy for a lifetime. They don’t realize that these beautiful marvels of nature need regular care and maintenance. To keep trees and shrubs healthy they need proper feeding, protection against the elements and insect control.

  1. Inspect:
    • As your trees begin to turn those charming fall colors, look for early or uneven fall color or defoliation—both could be signs of potential problems such as nutrient deficiencies, disease, and insects. Mushrooms aren’t usually a problem unless they’re in clumps near trunks, which might be a sign of root rot and decay.
  2. Have Your Soil Analyzed:
    • Fall is a very good time to evaluate your soil, so collect samples for nutrient analysis. If there’s an imbalance in your lawn, you’ll then be able to apply the appropriate fertilizer. For example, if your soil has a nitrogen deficiency, a slow-release fertilizer will get into the soil over the winter and then release in the spring.
  3. Mulch:
    • Mulch now to trap warmth and buy your shrubs a bit more time to grow and take up water and nutrients. Over the winter, mulch provides protection and helps reduce drying. Mulching is particularly important for new plantings and old shrubs. It’s recommended to use organic materials such as wood chips or bark as mulch around shrubs.
    • Distribution is important: You want no mulch right at the stem, and then a gradual increase of 1- to 2-inches thickness as you move out toward the drip line (the outer projection of the crown). Some call this “volcano mulching”—laying a large mound of mulch at the shrub’s base—traps moisture and can lead to rot and disease.
  4. Spray Leaves:
    • Some gardeners like to use anti-desiccant sprays—chemicals intended to keep leaves from dehydrating. But, very little research shows that anti-desiccant leaf sprays are effective. They will add gloss to leaves if that’s important to you. Some deer repellents include an anti-desiccant, so you may want to try a spray if deer are a problem in your garden.
  5. Look for Pests:
    • Pests can still be a problem even as the weather turns cooler. Cool-season mites can be quite damaging, as are spider mites and hemlock wooly adelgids. And then there are nuisance pests such as stink bugs, kudzu bugs, and box elder bugs, all of which are attracted by shrubbery. If you have a problem, call Blue Grass Lawn service & Landscaping for an assessment & FREE Estimate.
  6. Transplant Now:
    • Fall is a great time for transplanting many trees and shrubs too, you get a much higher success rate during this time of year. That’s because the plant doesn’t need to support leaves in the fall, but the roots will still grow a little.
    • Still, you must be careful. In some regions, such as the Northeast, there are some plants that don’t like being moved in the fall—they’re called “fall planting hazards.” we recommend contacting our team at Blue Grass Lawn Service & Landscaping OR your local county extension office for a list of such plants before you move anything.
  7. Protect:
    • Consider protecting shrubs that are subjected to high winds, southwest sun, or salt from the road. That goes especially for smooth-barked new transplants, which can be injured by frost crack. Wrap the trunk with paper, polypropylene, or burlap trunk wrap, you can buy all of these at most hardware stores. Protect foliage with a material such as Burlap.
      • Note: You can take the DIY route and make a windshield by hammering stakes into the ground and stapling on the material, or by wrapping the shrub in burlap entirely and properly securing them with twine. If you do not have experience performing these tasks don’t risk damage to your landscaping call us for a winter guard estimate. Remove coverings in early spring before the shrub starts growing—you’ll damage the branches if you leave the twine on. Finally, newly transplanted shrubs with a large crown and small root system may need to be staked to keep them upright during winter winds.
    • Blue Grass Lawn & Landscaping Service offers professional products to protect your landscaping. Our tried and true “Winter Guard” Protection treatment will prevent moisture loss due to windburn & reduces damage to evergreens from harsh winter winds too.
      • Our Complete Protection plans offer comprehensive protection and fertilization that promotes root development, provides storage of nutrients for winter hardiness, helps produce abundant budding and flowering.
  8. Tie Branches:
    • If you’ve experienced branch break in the past (it’s often caused by heavy snow loads), tie up your shrubs with twine. Start by tying on a low branch, and spiral up the shrub, gently folding up the branches as you go. experts recommend this technique particularly for delicate shrubs such as arborvitae and juniper.
  9. Prune:
    • There are three types of pruning you should do in the fall, according to experts.
      • First, prune branches that died over the summer.
      • Second, do structural pruning for things like co-dominant stems.
      • Third, prune for size reduction, unless you have old-growth shrubs with flowers on the old growth. In that case, wait until after flowering is finished.
    • Also, if you shear a hedge before the first frost, you can cause injury to the plant. Buds produce the hormone that tells the plant it’s winter and it should be dormant. If you cut off all those buds, you’re disabling the plant’s inner clock
  10. Learn:
    • Do some research before you plant new shrubbery. Shrub selection process should be based on what the plant can tolerate, sometimes a warm summer prompts a homeowner to plant shrubs well outside of their habitable zones, where they are much too fragile to last through winter.