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Fall is a great time to work in the yard! 

Fall LandscapeWith the right care your landscape will be in great shape for this season. Here are some simple tips from the City of Chandler Water Conservation office.

Adjust Your Watering Schedules - Deep, infrequent irrigations are always recommended when applying water to your landscape, but as temperatures cool the interval in between applications will need to be increased.  Dormant Bermuda lawns only need to be watered once a month in the winter. If you have chosen to plant a winter rye lawn, only apply water once every seven to 14 days; less often if we receive adequate rainfall.  Established shrubs will only need water once every two to four weeks as long as you are watering deeply enough. Visit Chandler’s Water Conservation Office website at chandleraz.gov/water to download a copy of Landscape Watering by the Numbers which will show you how much water to apply and how often to apply it.  If we receive at least a half-an-inch of rain, you can switch your controller ‘off’ for a week.

Irrigation systems. Fall and winter is a great time for irrigation maintenance. A broken sprinkler head can waste up to 20 gallons of water a minute. Emitters may become clogged and irrigation lines can develop leaks.  Troubleshooting you system will enable you to replace clogged emitters, or add emitters to plants and trees that need more water as they grow. Lawn sprinklers should be checked to see that even coverage hasn’t been affected by sand or debris in the sprinkler heads and that sprinklers aren’t spraying where they shouldn’t. Water that’s allowed to run off your landscape and down the street costs you money and damages roadways.  

Emitters. Move emitters towards the edge of the branches/stems. Typically the emitters are left in the same place they were when the landscape was originally installed. Moving emitters encourages the roots to grow outward creating a better anchoring system for the plant. 

Stakes and ties. Check the ties and stakes on trees. Remove the original ‘nursery’ stake next to the trunk on trees which can rub and create wounds. If the tree can’t stand on its own, use two wood poles placed outside the rootball with smooth hose and wire ties to support it. Ties that are too tight can cause weak points along the trunk. They must be checked on a regular basis to prevent restriction of the trunk's movement. Remove stakes if trees can stand on their own. 
 
Weeds. Weeds can compete with other landscape plants for water and nutrients. Remove them by hand or apply safe weed sprays. Apply herbicides by using a pre-emergent herbicide that will prevents weed seeds from being able to germinate. Post-emergent herbicides can work for weeds that have already germinated. Follow recommended package labels exactly.

Pruning.  Fall and winter are a good time to prune some landscape shrubs. Instead of continual shear pruning, which will reduce or eliminate blooming, try annual selective pruning to produce a more natural-looking plant that will bloom to its full potential. Wait until late February or March to prune Bougainvillea and Lantana in case of frost damage. Visit the Landscape Tips section on the Water Conservation website, chandleraz.gov/water. 

Mulch around plants. Organic mulches will improve your soil by adding nutrients and slowing moisture loss over your plants’ root zone. They also keep tender roots warmer during the chilly winter months. Keep mulch away from trunks or main stems to avoid suffocation.   Organic mulches such as shredded bark or compost need to be added annually as they decompose rapidly each year. By mulching trimmings from your landscape, you are keeping green waste out of the landfill. Call Chandler Solid Waste Services at 480-782-3510 or visit chandleraz.gov/recycle for information about upcoming Composting Workshops.

Fertilizing Plants. No fertilizing is necessary during the winter when plants are not actively growing. Wait until late February or March to begin fertilizing.

Planting.  Fall is the perfect time to plant new areas, replace plants that have died or remove high water use plants. This way they have the entire winter season to establish a strong root system before the heat of next summer arrives. Native or desert-adapted plants adjust easily to our soils and climate, and require less water and maintenance. There are many low water use plants to choose from. Visit the Water Conservation Office website chandleraz.gov/water to view the free brochure Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert or request a copy be mailed to you. For more landscape choices and design ideas to help you create a vibrant, attractive and colorful low water use landscape, view online our Water Wise Landscaping in Chandler publication at chandler.watersavingplants.com. 

Planting a Winter Lawn. One option during the fall and winter is to allow your Bermuda lawn to rest or go dormant. There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact, University of Arizona turf specialists agree it’s better for the lawn in most cases. This will save you the costs of installation, maintenance and water.  The overseeding process is very stressful to Bermuda. Non overseeded Bermuda will begin greening up as early as February or March. This option allows for other maintenance issues to be resolved and can be used as an opportunity to 'spruce up' landscaped areas.  

Wondering about any of these topics? Chandler offers free landscaping and irrigation workshops.  The complete schedule and online registration are available on Chandler’s Water Conservation website, chandleraz.gov/water.