By Lynn Barber & Paula Staples, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County

Fall is a season of change. We may shut off our air conditioning or change it from cool to heat. We fall back an hour in time. As temperatures decrease, the opportunity to evaluate our in-ground irrigation system and water use creates yet another opportunity for change.

Turfgrass normally loses some green leaf coloration as it prepares for the fall and winter seasons. As growth decreases during the fall and plants go dormant in winter, the need for water/irrigation decreases. This presents the opportunity in fall to reduce the number of minutes on our irrigation time clock by one-third.

During the winter season, water once every 10-14 days. Remember, no fertilization is necessary until the spring. How will you know it is spring? When your grass blades start to green up on their own without fertilizer.

Dividing clumping perennials is a great way to spread their beauty throughout your landscape. You can also ‘gift’ them to a special friend or neighbor. If your houseplants were outside for the summer and early fall, it’s time to consider bringing them inside your home before temperatures dip below 55 degrees F. Take cuttings of plants that won’t survive the winter outdoors. This is a great way to start your spring plant collection in your home, on your lanai or porch, depending on the temperatures.

Mulch retains soil moisture, regulates soil temperature and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. It should be 2-3 inches deep after it settles. Melaleuca (punk tree) is an excellent mulch selection that is produced from an invasive, non-native plant. This mulch has high termite resistance, almost no settling in the first year and retains color in year one.

Fall vegetables can be planted now. Check the internet at ‘Ask IFAS’ for the Central Florida Gardening Calendar, which provides month-by-month tips on what to do in your landscape.

If you have questions on how to review or operate your irrigation timer, please contact our office at 744-5519. We can help you make the changes over the telephone. If you feel your water bill is excessive, we can review your irrigation settings. Save yourself some time, money and water! Hurrah for fall!

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