Common Autumn Gardening Mistakes

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Nov 8, 2013 4:11:00 PM

autumn gardening

After the long harsh days of summer, the cooler breezes of autumn bring relief to the plants and prompts a second bout of energy among gardeners.  The weather feels like spring but instead of increasing temperatures, they are increasingly getting colder.  The day-length, instead of increasing, is continually getting shorter in the fall.  

These fall trends in temperature and day-length affect the physiological processes of plants in a different way than in the spring.  In the spring, plants are poised to actively grow while in the fall, they prepare to go into dormancy.  Some gardeners fail to take this fact into account.   With the best of intentions, gardeners may do more damage than good when activities are poorly timed.  Here is a list of some of the most common gardening blunders committed in this area (Zone 9) during this season.

autumn gardening

1.  Under Watering
   This is probably the most common gardening blunder in the fall.  The cooler temperatures and the angle of the sun are deceiving.  They make the color of the soil and the leaves deeper mimicking the color of well watered plants.  

Gardeners often take this as an indication that they can take a break from watering.  The fact is - plants will continue to need water to function well.  Water loss will continue through transpiration (from the plants) and evaporation (from the soil).  Check the soil moisture and water whenever necessary. 

2.  Not Adjusting Irrigation Timer
  The lawn is often the victim of this mistake.  When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, water has a greater chance to linger in the soil and it remains more available for the plants.  Overwatering can be avoided by judiciously adjusting the watering timers.  

3.  Applying Nitrogen to Woody Plants
  Fertilizing is important but make sure to use the right fertilizer at the right time.  Nitrogen promotes growth.  Although growth is good, time may not be on your side.  Application of nitrogen in the fall results in new growth that will still be young before the cold season sets in.  

Young, soft branches are susceptible to frost damage and pests.  Also, a young branch that has not fully hardened before it goes into dormancy (in the winter) does not have enough stored energy resulting into a weak and unproductive branch in the spring.  If you must give in to the urge to fertilize, then apply one which is rich in phosphorous, which promotes stronger roots. 

autumn gardening

4.  Pruning Woody Plants
  Pruning early in the season has a similar result to the use of nitrogen fertilizer. In our Zone 9 area, fall temperatures are still warm enough that pruning will induce new buds to emerge.   Beware!

Fall is not the time to encourage this to happen. The plants will be more vulnerable to frost damage.  Instead, wait until the plant begins to turn color or drop leaves – this is a sure indication that the plant has begun dormancy.

5.  Watering in Late Afternoon
  This is generally a bad habit, but during fall it is even worse.

Wet leaves, especially with warm afternoons, promote the spread of diseases.  Watering is better done early in the day so that moisture can evaporate quickly from the leaves.

6. Lawn Seeding
  Just because the fall weather allows successful germination of grass seeds, it does not imply that the new lawn will be healthy.

For best results, sow grass seeds when weather is still warm in late summer or early fall. This allows for uninterrupted development of foliage and roots prior to the cold winter months.  If you simply must have that lawn in the fall, then opt for sod. 

7.   Ignoring Wildlife  
As summer bounty dwindles, wild animals run out of their natural food supply and tend to search your front yard for nutritious meals.  Pansies that adorned your front porch in the spring and summer may suddenly turn into a delectable salad in the fall for your four-legged-antlered friends (a.k.a. deer).  If you were successful in evading disappointment last season, then maintain that success by choosing plants more carefully. 

So there you go.  This list is not exhaustive, but if you can avoid these common pitfalls, then you are in for great autumn of gardening.


At Green Acres, we offer a wide variety of nursery supplies for your fall gardening needs such as:

  • Soil moisture testers
  • Water-timers that coincide with local weather conditions
  • Fertilizers for all types of plants
  • Sod 
  • Deer-resistant plants and deer-repellant sprays.  

Happy gardening!


Topics: Installing Sod, Autumn Gardening, Winter, Irrigation Tips

Looking to Install Sod in Folsom or the Sacramento Area?

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Sep 20, 2012 9:31:00 AM

Sod in Folsom

Fall is a great time to establish a new lawn.  Installing new sod in Folsom or anywhere in the Sacramento area is easy because Green Acres is now right in your own backyard.  During the fall, temperatures are cool and the soil temps are still warm which will help establish strong roots.  Light fall rains can also aid in the success of newly established turf.  For any time of year we recommend Delta Bluegrass' Peat Grown Bolero Plus Dwarf Fescue or 90/10 Tall Fescue.  

Bolero Plus Dwarf Fescue is a great sod in Folsom and the Sacramento area because it rates high for heat tolerance, drought tolerance and disease resistance.  90/10 Tall Fescue has similiar propterties to the Bolero Plus, but it has even increased wear recovery, meaning it stands up better to high traffic areas.  Do you have kids constantly playing out in the yard?  Then the 90/10 Tall Fescue might be the perfect choice. 

Don't forget that new sod is perishable, so immediate installation is essential to start a healthy lawn.  A light watering of the ground before installation is recommended, since dry soil acts like a wick and removes the moisture from the sod. Cooler ground temperatures will help prevent the roots from shock.  Also remember to use fertilizer on the soil before installation.  A Green Acres staff member can recommend several options.  For a full installation guide please visit one of our stores in Roseville, Sacramento or Folsom.

Please stay off new sod until after the first mowing.

  • Proper watering of sod is essential for root establishment. The day of installation, enough water should be applied to penetrate the sod and two inches of native soil.

  • From day two on, keep your sod and soil moist throughout the day. The roots are short so the sod cannot withstand large amounts of water at a single time. Other than the first day, the ground under the sod should never be soggy. Usually watering four to six times during the day, for approximately five to six minutes each time, is required until the roots have been established. Root establishment will usually begin within seven to fourteen days depending on the time of year your sod is installed and your environment.

  • Too much water will rob the roots of oxygen and in warmer weather that possibly can lead to disease. The length of each watering cycle will depend on your soil type and the output of your irrigation system. A clay type soil may need five minutes, four times a day compared to a sandy loam which may need seven minutes, five times a day. You have to judge the minutes given, but here is a tip: If the water is standing under the sod for more than just a few minutes after an irrigation set has finished or if the soil is soggy, you are probably giving the sod too much water at one time.

  • Avoid, if at all possible, watering into the evening hours (after five-thirty or six pm); this is one of the fastest ways to create a fungus problem.

  • Start reducing the frequency of watering cycles just before the first mowing. This will firm up the soil for a healthy mowing cycle.

    Sod in Sacramento

  • The first mowing should be approximately 14 days after the sod has been installed. In the winter you may need to wait longer for the roots to establish prior to mowing.

  • Never mow off more than 1/3 of the blade during a mowing cycle. This results in less stress for the plant. 

Green Acres gets fresh deliveries of sod in Folsom and our other locations from Monday-Saturday. If you are planning a project we highly recommend pre-orders.  We can also arrange Free Home Delivery on orders of at least 1,000 sq./ft. with at least a 2 day lead time.  Click below to visit our website to contact us.

Green Acres Website

Topics: Installing Sod, Sod in Folsom, Tips for Installing Sod, Recommended Sod Products

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