The leaves are changing here on Long Island, which is a sign that some backyard maintenance needs doing before and after they fall.
For one thing, leaf tannin stains decks and driveways so we need to plan for removing the leaves. Also, leaf debris in water features can lead to a messy clean up come spring. Plus, there’s plant pruning, tree trimming and even some planting to do during fall. So let’s get planning.
As we wrote in detail a few weeks ago, pond netting is key if you own a pond. Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.
“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”
Prevent Staining from Leaves
“Fallen leaves have tannin,” adds Dave. “The tannin can stain concrete, pavers and decks. People often don’t realize that it’s preferable to simply remove the leaves than to seal your deck or patio.”
Sealants, he continues, need to be regularly redone, which is a lot more maintenance than just getting rid of the leaves. (Indeed, some new deck materials such as Trex Transcend, don’t require sealants and it’s a good idea not to use them at all on these types of decks.)
In order to give plants enough time to callous over before the first frost, right now, that is early fall, is the ideal time to prune.
Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.
Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.
“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.
“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”
Time to Plant
To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.
Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.
Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.
Today’s Feature Photo (Top of Page): Deck and Patio Pond Project
A bit of effort in early autumn— before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.