What the Pros Know: According to Shaun
Preparing for Fall
Who is ready for fall colors of autumn, hoodies and chili? Fall is a very special time in my world. Hopefully, all of you have enjoyed your summer and are ready for a fun fall as well. Here are some things to be thinking about this time of year.
It’s time to put those sprinkler systems to bed for the winter. A properly installed irrigation system will have the supply lines buried at least 12 inches deep to help avoid freezing issues, but to protect your investment you will want to have the system winterized. The process typically includes the use of a large, tow behind-type air compressor capable of supplying 85 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and will blow nearly all of the water out of the irrigation lines as you run a couple of cycles through your system. Most of us don’t have an air compressor like this sitting in our garage, so you will most likely have to call on a professional for help with this service. It’s quite an ordeal but certainly worth it. Now if you happen to have seeded the lawn or planted some new trees or shrubs, you might want to postpone shutting down your sprinkler system until December, so you can water during any dry periods still to come this fall.
Dormant feeding of your ornamental trees and shrubs might be the most important thing that you can do for your landscape plants this fall or winter, especially after the wet late spring and summer we had. Water logged root zones often shorten and produce “lazy” roots while promoting disease. You might want to take a soil sample around your planting beds to have tested. We often use the University of Missouri Soil Lab via the MU Extension office. If you have a plant of concern, they can also test a sample from your tree or shrub to see what nutrients it might be lacking, so that you can cater your fertility program to its specific needs. You might also want to research the different common fertility needs for your variety of plants because your plans should differ depending on the type of shrub or bush. You might need more Nitrogen for improving spring growth versus more Phosphorus for root development, winter hardiness and bloom production. There are also micro-nutrients available to supplement sulfur, boron, magnesium, iron, manganese and other nutrients that are vital to a healthy plants. Do your research, and remember more is not always better when it comes to fertilizer.
As the holiday season nears, many of you are probably planning on climbing up and down ladders and scaling your roof tops in order to display your inner Clark Griswold. If that is the case, please be careful. Make sure you have someone who can assist you by holding the ladder, handing you tools and anything they can do to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Don’t reach out too far either. This is an easy way to get off balance and pitch the ladder one way or the other. If the ladder slides off the gutter, you might find yourself crashing to the ground. I personally take the opportunity to get all three of my boys out for this annual lighting event. It’s a lot of fun. Starting early in the fall might also be a good idea, so you’re hanging lights while it’s still a little bit warm outside.
This time of year we see a lot of wildlife getting ready for winter. Many birds fly south for the winter (this would be my choice!) while some animals get ready for hibernation and others build up their food storage in an effort to survive our long, cold Missouri winter. We only have a few animals that actually hibernate in our area (bats, ground hogs and some mice). Most animals reduce activities to conserve energy and will fend for themselves in order to survive the winter. Squirrels are one of those animals that will build up their food supply and nest together with their family unit in order to share supplies and body heat. Sometimes, they look for the strangest places to store food and build a nest to ride out the winter months. Sometimes it’s in the attic space of our homes. As they search for entry points (which can be anywhere), squirrels might damage siding, soffits, fascia boards, chimney flashing and even various types of exhaust fans. Once in the attic, they can build nests where they create a mess with droppings and urine. Even worse, they can chew through wires, which creates a potential fire hazard, or destroy furniture and other household contents if they get into living areas. If you notice any sounds of scurrying little feet from your attic, you might want to be on the lookout for squirrels looking to take up residence. You might need to trap and remove them while finding their entry point to close and repair.
An Atkins Shoutout
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to congratulate our Atkins team and the Atkins family on their 90th anniversary. It is quite an accomplishment for a small family-owned and operated business to survive that long and do as well as they have. The long list of services provided have changed a lot over the years, but we have always held tight to the idea that we want to provide exceptional customer service, develop great relationships and be involved in the community. Thank you to Tom Atkins for all that he has done for our community and the folks that work here at Atkins.
About Shaun: I was born and raised in the Deer Park area south of town, where I was close to lots of cousins, my grandparents and plenty of friends. I don’t think I ever imagined living anywhere else. My wife and I both graduated from the University of Missouri and set roots in Columbia with our three boys. Having grown along with Atkins Inc. since June of 2000, I’m proud to be part of an organization that’s so deeply rooted in building relationships throughout the community and developing one of the finest groups of experts in the field. From grounds maintenance to pest management to commercial cleaning, our crews really know their stuff. We’d love to hear from you at 573-874-5100 or email me at [email protected]