Fall Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts From Our Local Experts

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The leaves are changing color, which means it’s time to switch up your landscape routine, too. We asked our readers’ favorite landscapers to share their advice.

fall landscaping do's and don'ts
Carolina Garden Company landscaped the Roth home in the Willowhaven neighborhood.

By Marie Muir

What can you do this fall to ensure a lush lawn in the spring?

“I encourage people to spread mulch or pine needles in the fall to protect the plants and the root system during the coldness of the winter months. For fall leaf cleanup, don’t blow leaves in ditches or drainage ways. The No. 1 mistake you see made when it comes to fall yardwork is waiting too late to aerate, fertilize and seed.” Jeff Stern, director of business operations at TROSA Lawn Care

“Aerate, fertilize and add lime and wheat straw if needed. You can reseed fescue grass during this time, but do not seed hot season grasses such as Bermuda and zoysia.” Shelley B. Cook, owner of Carolina Garden Company

“Early spring weeds begin germinating now. If that’s a concern, get ahead by applying a preemergent herbicide. For those not wishing to apply chemicals to the environment, there are effective corn gluten-based preemergents available. … Grasses grow best in a pH around 7 (neutral). Soils in this area tend to be acidic (lower pH). A soil test can help determine if an application of lime is needed to raise pH levels.” Shawn Priggel, nursery manager at Kiefer Landscaping and Nursery

What are some good options for fall plantings?

Scott Pearce – fall landscaping do's and don'ts
Scott Pearce

“The nursery industry has been trying for years to help the public understand that fall is really the best time for planting. Plants are going dormant, so the roots aren’t having to work to support growing leaves. Temperatures are cooler, and rain is more consistent this time of year, so it’s easier on the plant (and the gardener!). Plants can concentrate on underground growth, which goes on throughout the winter, and be ahead of the game next year.” – Shawn

“Fall- and winter-blooming shrubs and trees, such as camellias, edgeworthia and tea olives are just a few that bring beauty to your landscape during those two seasons. To plant for next spring, look for trees like cherry, redbud and dogwood and shrubs such as azalea, snowball viburnum and illicium. … And you can’t forget all the gorgeous perennials that add an extra pop of fall color to your landscape.” Scott Pearce, president and owner of For Garden’s Sake

What kind of roses grow well in our region?

Mary Alice Pike – fall landscaping do's and don'ts
Mary Alice Pike

“Fall is a great time to plant roses! It allows the roots to settle into their new home over winter and before spring. The type of rose most people seek from Witherspoon are hybrid tea roses. These are the long stem roses with large blooms. Touring around the state, you will see a variety of climbing roses, shrub roses, English roses like David Austin roses and floribundas. Each has their own, unique purpose in a garden.” Mary Alice Pike, sales and marketingmanager at Witherspoon Rose Culture

What can be done this fall to ensure beautiful roses in the spring?

“Regular watering, remove spent blooms promptly, and consider using a mild, quick release fertilizer for a short boost of energy.” – Mary Alice

What kind of fruit trees grow well here?

“The following fruit trees grow well in our region: apple, peach, fig, pear and persimmon. The benefits of growing your own fruit trees are that you will be able to see the fruits of your labor! However, the challenges are various, as they include birds, deer, insects and diseases.” – Shelley

“Fruit trees can be a challenge here in the Piedmont. The easiest, low maintenance types are figs and persimmons (both American and Asian varieties). Though not a tree, blueberries also fall in this category. Fruit trees that are in the rose family (apples, pears, plums) are subject to disease and insect problems and generally require regular spraying to maintain the health of the tree and produce edible fruit. For those who like a challenge, the N.C. State Extension website has good information on growing fruit at home, when and what to spray, and specific varieties that perform well in our area.” – Shawn

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Marie Muir

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