Protect Lawn Against Red Thread
Help your lawn avoid red thread fungal disease by providing its nutritional needs this fall and winter. Feed the lawn with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer, applying it now before fall rains begin. If you haven't applied lime in the past two to three years, wait a week after fertilizing and apply lime at the rate of about 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet of turfgrass area to maintain the pH between 6 and 7.
Store leftover dry fertilizers in a dry, frost-free area over the winter months. Place fertilizer packages in plastic bags and label them well before storing. Liquid materials can degrade, and glass bottles can shatter if left out in a tool shed. Wrap liquid containers in newspaper, place them in a cardboard box, and store them in a safe area of the garage.
Drain Sprinkler Systems
Clean debris such as fallen leaves and pine needles from house gutters and downspouts, tossing needles and leaves into the compost pile. Drain sprinkler systems before cold weather arrives, but keep hoses handy, just in case a dry spell means you'll need to water. Evergreens especially need moisture all winter to stay alive.
Watch for Buds on Holiday Cactus
The earlier-flowering varieties of holiday cacti may be starting to form flower buds now. Check the ends of the leaves for new buds, and when they appear, move the plants from their cool location to a warm room. Place near a window where they will receive bright light, keep the soil moist and the humidity high, and they should bloom in a few short weeks.
Sow Cover Crops
Sow green manure cover crops, such as perennial rye, hairy vetch, or crimson clover in empty beds that won't be needed for earliest spring plantings. Green manure cover crops crowd out weeds, prevent erosion, and help improve soil fertility when they're turned under in the spring.