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First Frost Checklist

Here is a simple checklist to help you prepare your garden for the first frost. 

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Be rewarded when the warm weather returns by planting your spring-blooming bulbs during the fall. Daisies, allium, black-eyed Susan, rudbeckia, crocus, daffodil, tulip, snowdrop, lily of the valley, iris, and hyacinth are all fantastic choices for Missouri's climate.

When: Once temperatures start to sit between 50-60F overnight, the soil will be cool enough to plant your bulbs. 

Why: The fall months provide ideal conditions for these plants to develop strong, healthy root systems come springtime. 

How: Bulbs should be planted pointy end up and at a depth of about 2-3 times their height. 

Additional plant care: Once temps dip below 30, move smaller container plants indoors. Large, delicate plants can be wrapped in a landscaping material, such as burlap, to help protect them from frost. Adding mulch around the roots of plants will also help keep them insulated and hydrated throughout winter.

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With the beautiful sea of yellow and orange foliage comes the inevitable shedding of leaves. They pile up quickly, and we know that keeping your yard free of fallen leaves can become a strenuous chore, but it's an essential part of maintaining a happy, healthy lawn.

When: This depends on the type and number of trees on your property. Typically, we see leaves beginning to pile up in early October and continue to drop through December.

Why: A build-up of leaf litter and other debris can create a variety of problems. It invites unwanted pests, blocks nutrients from reaching grass roots, and can smother your turf.

How: The best way to avoid damage to your lawn is by using a leaf blower to gently gather leaves together for removal. We use walk-behind blowers for large spaces and backpack blowers for more delicate areas. We can blow leaves into the woods, collect them in a pile for city pickup, or place them curbside for vacuum collection. Alternatively, you can mulch them or add them to a compost pile. Learn more about our leaf cleanup options here.

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It's important to prepare your irrigation system for winter by blowing out sprinkler lines, checking backflow valves, and switching off the main water line to prevent freeze damage. 

When: We recommend scheduling before the first week of November.

Why: As water freezes, it expands, leading to burst pipes and broken sprinkler heads and valves. These repairs can be expensive, particularly if the backflow device is damaged.

How: You can reserve a time with our technicians for irrigation winterization here.

Winter watering tip: plants still require about 1-1.5" of water (or 30 minutes of rain) every two weeks to sustain them until spring. Water on warmer days over 40F and early in the morning for short periods to allow water to soak in before temps drop overnight. Remember to remove your hose from the spigot to prevent freeze damage.

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The growing season may be coming to a close, but you can still add lines, contrast, and texture to your landscape to keep it looking full and interesting over the bleak winter months. The best way to do this is with a final landscape tidy and top-dressing of your garden beds.

When: Best practice is after the first frost. In St. Louis, this typically occurs around the first or second week of October.

Why: It's not just cosmetic. A fall cleanup will go a long way to giving your beds the best chance to perform well next year.

How: Deadhead perennials and cut back ornamental grasses to help them grow back stronger in the spring. Remove summer annuals, weeds, and other debris to help protect your beds from disease and unwanted pests. And add a fresh layer of mulch to insulate the soil from the harsh winter conditions. Popular color options include black, brown, and red.

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Improve your plants' overall health and appearance with an end-of-season trim. The goal is to create a balanced, symmetrical growth pattern while encouraging new growth come springtime. A final trim will also increase light penetration to your lawn.

When: Spring and summer trimming focuses on shaping the plant's foliage. Once the leaves drop, we transition to structural pruning in order to shape limbs and branches.

Why: Plants can be reduced more radically during winter as the risk of damage to new growth is minimized, and you can avoid unnecessary stress on your plants. This is the reason we trim roses, hydrangea, and abelia at this time.

How: Because the structure of a plant can be clearly viewed in winter, damaged, diseased, or rubbing branches can be assessed and removed as needed. You can also address growth encroaching on your home, sidewalk, or other plants.

Tools and materials checklist:

First Frost Tools (1584 x 300 px)

You will need a wheelbarrow, gardening gloves, hand trowel, shovel, pruning shears, leaf blower or rake, mulch, and bulbs. 

If you are short on tools or time, request a free quote or call our team at (636) 532-9192.

Topics: Winter Season Maintenance Seasonal Yard Maintenance

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