Green Giants of New England: Caring for Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar

If you’re looking to add some green charm to your New England garden, Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar is a great choice! These evergreen trees and shrubs not only add year-round beauty but also privacy and character to your landscape. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about caring for these popular plants in New England.


Choosing the Right Variety

Before you dive into planting Arborvitae or Western Red Cedar, it’s essential to choose the right variety that suits your landscape and environmental conditions. Consider factors like light requirements, mature size, foliage color, and growth rate.

For Full Sun to Light Shade: American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

  • Emerald Green (‘Smaragd’)
  • Dark American (‘Nigra’)
  • Degroot’s Spire
  • American Pillar
  • Golden Globe

For Full Sun to Shade: Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

  • Green Giant
  • Steeplechase
  • Whipcord
  • Forever Goldy



Western Red Cedars at Mahoney’s in Winchester

Planting Tips

Follow these guidelines for successful Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar transplantation:

Soil Requirements: Ensure your soil drains well. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter and gypsum. These plants have broad root systems, so dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball to encourage root spread.

Care in the First Two Years: Pay special attention during the first two years after planting. Adequate watering, especially during dry spells, is critical.
Fertilizing: Apply all-purpose slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth fully emerges. Fall fertilizing at half the spring amount helps establish healthy root systems.

Pruning: Arborvitae typically don’t require much pruning, but if needed, shear the outermost growth in late spring to shape or manage size. Start early to avoid overgrowth.


For a handy, printable version of this information, check out our Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar care guide!


Printable Care Guide


Common Problems and Solutions

Heat Stress: Hot, dry weather can induce heat stress and invite spider mite infestations. Ensure regular, deep watering to boost plant vigor and natural defenses.

Bagworm Moths: While not typically destructive, bagworms can cause unsightly defoliation. Hand removal is often sufficient or use organic pesticides like Neem Oil for larger infestations.

Deer Damage: In areas with high deer populations, consider planting Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) as it’s less favored by deer compared to Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis).


Seasonal Needle Drop

Don’t panic if your Arborvitae turns brown inside during fall; it’s a natural process called seasonal needle drop. Fresh growth in spring will fill in any gaps left by this process.


Fall Watering

Keep your Arborvitae and other evergreens well-hydrated in autumn, as it prepares them for the harsh winter conditions common in New England. Water regularly from September through early December to reduce winter stress. For more information on establishment watering for newly planted trees, see our printable Planting Guide. 



Here are some popular Arborvitae cultivars carried at Mahoney’s Garden Centers:

American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

  • Emerald Green ‘Smaragd’
  • Dark American ‘Nigra’
  • Degroot’s Spire
  • American Pillar
  • Golden Globe

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

  • Green Giant
  • Steeplechase
  • Whipcord
  • Forever Goldy


Please note that actual plant characteristics may vary depending on soil, sunlight, and water conditions.


Incorporating Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar into your New England or Boston garden can be a delightful addition, providing year-round beauty, privacy, and resilience. These versatile plants, with proper care and maintenance, will thrive in your outdoor space, enhancing its charm for years to come.


Shop a wide selection of Arborvitae and Wester Red Cedar in-store and select varieties online.

Shop Online



Video Look: Fall Container Inspiration

Get inspired by how Julia pulled together the Fall planters in front of our Winchester store! Using an eclectic mix of bright and textured fall annuals and perennials (and a delightful touch of pumpkins) – we absolutely adore the result!



Planting Bulbs in the Fall for a Vibrant New England Spring

As the leaves begin to change colors and the air turns crisp, it’s time to think ahead to the next gardening season. Fall is the perfect time to start planning for a vibrant spring garden in New England. One of the most satisfying ways to usher in the beauty of spring is by planting bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, and tulips. In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps to ensure your spring garden is a colorful and deer-resistant masterpiece.

Step 1: Selecting Your Bulbs

Visit us in early fall for a stunning array of bulbs for your garden. This is when you’ll find the widest variety and freshest selection. Look for daffodils, crocuses, tulips and more in various colors and sizes to create a visually stunning display.


Step 2: Preparing the Soil

Before planting, take the time to prepare your soil. Bulbs thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Add compost to your garden bed and work it into the soil to create a loose, nutrient-rich environment for your bulbs. This preparation will make it easier for you to plant and ensure your bulbs receive the nutrients they need.

Step 3: Timing is Crucial

While it’s tempting to start planting bulbs immediately, try to exercise a little patience. Wait until late autumn (after the first frost) when rodents are hibernating and the soil has cooled down a bit. This will help protect your freshly planted bulbs from becoming a tasty snack for underground critters.

Step 4: Planting Your Bulbs

Now, it’s time to get your hands dirty. You can either dig individual holes for each blub or dig a larger hole for a mass planting and thrilling spring show! In general, plant daffodils and tulips at a depth of 6 to 8 inches, while crocuses should be planted at around 3 to 4 inches deep. Watch Luc’s tips below for creating a stunning display using a mass planting technique!

Step 5: Fertilize with Espoma Bulb Tone

To give your bulbs a strong start, apply Espoma Bulb Tone when planting. This organic fertilizer is specifically formulated for bulbs and provides essential nutrients to promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms in the spring.

Step 6: Deer and Rabbit Resistance

One of the benefits of planting daffodils is that they are unpalatable to deer and rabbits due to their toxic compounds. To protect your tulips from these garden visitors, consider planting daffodils and tulips together. The presence of daffodils will deter animals from munching on your tulips, ensuring a colorful display come spring.


Step 7: Extend Your Spring Joy

One of the joys of planting a combination of bulbs like crocuses, daffodils, and tulips is the extended bloom time. Crocuses are often the first to emerge, followed by the cheerful daffodils, and finally, the elegant tulips. This sequential flowering will keep your garden in bloom for several weeks, providing continuous beauty and enjoyment.

Step 8: Protecting Against Rabbits in Early Spring

As the snow melts and spring arrives, hungry rabbits may be on the lookout for tender green shoots emerging from your bulbs. To prevent them from nibbling on your plants, use a rabbit repellent like Rabbit Scram. Applying this product around the garden area in early spring will help deter rabbits and protect your emerging foliage.

Planting bulbs in the fall for a stunning spring display in New England is a rewarding endeavor for any gardener. By selecting the right bulbs, timing your planting correctly, and taking steps to protect against rodents and hungry animals, you can ensure a colorful and vibrant garden come spring. So, get out there, prepare your soil, and start planning your bulb garden now for a spectacular spring season ahead!


Crisp Air, Vibrant Lawns: Fall Seeding in New England Explained

Fall in New England is a wonderful time to seed your lawn for lush green come spring. This time of year provides the ideal combination of cool air and warm soil, creating the perfect conditions for new grass to develop healthy roots before winter. Whether you’re refreshing your existing lawn or starting anew, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process step by step, for the lushest lawn in New England!

Step 1: Assess Your Seeding Needs

Before you begin, it’s essential to determine whether you’re overseeding to fill in sparse areas or embarking on a new seeding project. This initial decision will dictate the amount of seed you require.

Step 2: Measure Your Lawn Area

Take a leisurely stroll through your lawn, measuring its dimensions (length x width) to calculate the square footage accurately. This vital step will help you determine the quantity of seed and other necessary materials.

Step 3: Understand Your Lawn’s Light

Consider the lighting conditions in your yard, keeping in mind that they might have changed from the sun-soaked summer months. It’s crucial to understand how many hours of sunlight your lawn receives each day during the summertime when your trees are leafy. This knowledge will inform your choice of grass type.


Step 4: Prepare the Ground

Prepare your canvas by thoroughly cleaning the designated area. Remove any rocks, leaves, or debris. Also, keep an eye out for low spots that may require additional soil to create a level surface. For small areas, Mahoney’s Top Soil is an excellent choice, while larger areas may benefit from bulk loam. Don’t forget to compact the newly added soil with a roller or by lightly stepping down on it. This will prevent runoff during watering.

Step 5: Choose Your Grass Type

Select the type of grass that suits your lawn’s needs and your personal preferences. You can opt for a mix of varieties or individual grass types, such as Tall Fescue, Rye Grass, or Bluegrass, each with its unique characteristics and growth patterns. Click here to see our grass seed varieties and choose one that’s right for the light and traffic your lawn will be getting.


Step 6: Starter Fertilizer

Unless you’ve applied fall fertilizer within the past four weeks, it’s advisable to use a starter fertilizer. Look for a product with a higher middle number in the nutrient range (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium). The middle number represents phosphorus, which is important for healthy root development. Jonathan Green’s 12-18-8 is an excellent choice for both new seeding and overseeding. Apply it uniformly across your entire lawn area, avoiding separate applications.

Step 7: Determine Seeding Rates

The amount of seed you need depends on your seeding goals. For overseeding, aim for 1-3 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet, while new seeding typically requires 3-5 pounds per 1000 square feet. To achieve a thicker and more lush lawn, consider reapplying seed 14 days after the initial seeding to fill in any gaps.

Step 8: Tools of the Trade

Ensure an even seed distribution by using a push spreader or hand spreader. Avoid broadcasting seed by hand, which can result in uneven germination and waste.

Step 9: Cozy Cover for Cooler Nights

In cooler temperatures, consider using weed-free straw, compost, or salt marsh hay. These materials will provide insulation and protection to your seeds, promoting ideal germination conditions.


Step 10: Master the Art of Watering

Your freshly seeded lawn needs about 2 inches of water per week. A rain gauge can help you determine the time needed to achieve this, allowing you to schedule watering effectively. For optimal results, water deeply and in the morning, as evening watering can encourage pathogens and fungus.

Remember, patience is your greatest ally, and the reward will be a vibrant, green lawn that you can cherish in the seasons to come.

Happy seeding! May your lawn thrive and impress!





Now In: Fall Color

It’s hard to believe, but summer is coming to a close and our stores are beginning the transition to Fall! Stop in to refresh your planters with a color palette that will take you through the change of the season

Moving into Fall and Winter

October can be a wonderful time in the garden. While the glories of summer may be behind us, it does not mean the end of color and interest in the garden. There are shrubs and trees that offer fall leaf color ranging from butter yellow, to orange, to glorious red. Many reveal interesting architecture and exfoliating bark when their leaves drop, drawing your attention throughout the winter. Others have berries that add vibrant color to the landscape. Here are some options to explore which will create fall and winter interest in the landscape.


Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (Serviceberry)

This variety of our native Serviceberry lives up to its name. Its young leaves are bronze, mature to green, and turn brilliant orange and red in the autumn, all on multiple upright, highly branched stems, forming a small multi-stemmed tree. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ has spectacular 5-petaled, showy and slightly fragrant white flowers that are larger than those of other Amelanchiers. They appear in early spring in drooping clusters (racemes) before the leaves emerge. The flowers are at first tinged with pink, later fading to white. They give way to small round green berries which turn red and finally mature to a dark purplish black in the early summer. The edible berries are sweet and often used in jams, jellies and pies. The birds will find them as attractive as you do, so you may have to decide whether you will get more pleasure from your homemade jam or having feathered friends drawn to you garden.

Azalea (deciduous): When we think of azaleas, we tend to think of the evergreen azaleas that are staples in front yard plantings. Less well known are the deciduous azaleas. They are more upright in habit and tend to bloom a little later than the evergreen varieties, but are well worth the wait. Whether you choose a pink, yellow or orange flowering variety, they are highly fragrant. As autumn approaches, the leaves turn glorious shades of red, orange and yellow.
Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet): This native shrub is a late summer bloomer, producing fragrant, narrow upright panicle-shaped flowers in white or pink that are a magnet for butterflies and bees. An upright shrub, it performs well in sun or part shade. It grows in regular garden conditions and can also be used in moist spots. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn warm yellow in the autumn. ‘Ruby Spice’ has fragrant, deep pink flowers and grows 4’-6’ high and wide. ‘Hummingbird’ is a more compact growing variety at 3’-4’ and has fragrant, long-lasting white flowers. It is a great option for smaller gardens.
Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’ (Red twig Dogwood):

This is one of the most versatile shrubs for the residential landscape. It is happy in conditions ranging from full sun to the shade of a north facing garden. Light green leaves have an ivory margin (hence the variety name), and blow in even the slightest breeze. It complements whatever is planted next to it and will light up a shady garden. When the leaves drop, its many bright red stems stand out against the snow or against the foundation of your house. ‘Ivory Halo’ grows 4’ high and wide.

Cornus sericea ‘Arctic Fire’ (Red osier Dogwood): This is a compact selection which has dark red winter stems. It grows 3’-4’ feet tall and wide.

Enkianthus (Red Vein Enkianthus): This is a lovely shrub that deserves wider use in the residential landscape. It is an upright deciduous shrub that grow 6’-8’ tall and 3’-4’ wide in time. It has tiny, bell- shaped nodding flowers that look like lily-of- the-valley flowers. They are creamy white to pale pink with slim red stripes and edges. The small leaves are bluish-green and are grouped at the branch tips. The overall effect is one of great delicacy. It is hard to imagine that such a delicate looking shrub can become such a riot of color in the fall. Leaves offer red, orange and yellow tones that are absolutely beautiful.


This slow-growing deciduous shrub has fragrant white, bottlebrush-like flowers that appear in early spring. Some people describe the flowers as honey-scented. The unusually shaped leaves are rounded at the base and have slightly pointed edges from the mid-point to the tip. The show really takes off in fall when leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red. Fothergilla gardenia is referred to as dwarf Fothergilla, growing 2’-3’ tall and wide. ‘Mt Airy’ is a hybrid of two species and grows 3’-5’ tall and wide. ‘Blue Shadow’ is similar to’ Mt. Airy’ but has beautiful powder blue foliage. ‘Blue Mist’ is a more compact variety, growing 2’-3’, with the same intense blue foliage. Fothergilla will grow happily in full sun to moderate shade.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea): This multi-stemmed deciduous shrub is unlike the familiar hydrangea. Flowers are upright 12” long pyramidal panicles that open white and age to tones of pink and red. Large leaves resemble oak leaves in shape and turn a beautiful mahogany color in autumn. The cinnamon colored bark exfoliates, creating wonderful winter interest.

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry):

This shrub is native to the eastern United States. It produces bright red berries that persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) and often into early spring. It grows in full sun to part shade. Female forms such as ‘Red Spite’ require a male pollinator such as ‘Jim Dandy’ in order to produce the red berries. There is nothing like these showy berries to add a pop of welcome color in the depths of winter.

Itea (Sweetspire):

This is a lovely deer resistant native shrub that produces loads of long, pendulous white flowers that remain attractive through summer. It is a rounded shrub with gently arching branches. The bright green leaves of summer turn wonderful shades of red and orange in the autumn. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ grows 4’ tall while ‘Little Henry’ grows just 3’ tall.

Viburnum: There are many varieties of Viburnum, all of which offer interesting flowers, berries, leaf texture and beautiful red to mahogany colored foliage in the autumn. ‘Brandywine’ is one example, offering pink and blue berries, followed by glossy dark red to maroon fall foliage.


Deciduous Trees: Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the autumn. While we value their summer leaves and the shade they provide, they are to be valued for other features. Many offer beautiful bark and elegant architecture which enhances the autumn and winter landscape. Here are a few to consider:

Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple): This maple has slender upright branches. Its soft green leaves turn shades of orange and scarlet in fall. It becomes more distinctive and elegant with age, as its papery sheets of bark peel back to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark. This tree makes a lovely specimen in any landscape, including today’s smaller home landscape.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple):

Japanese maples are lovely and distinctive small trees for the home landscape. The varieties are almost infinite and all produce wonderful fall color, including shades of yellow, orange, red and bronze. They do best with some shade as full sun conditions can burn leaf edges.

Acer rubrum (Red Maple): Our beloved red maples add a rich dimension to the autumn landscape. Rubrum, meaning red, is in evidence everywhere: red flowers, red fruit, red stems and twigs, red buds and in fall, red and orange toned foliage. ‘October Glory’ is a variety that provides exceptional fall color.
Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ (Heritage River Birch): This fast-growing deciduous tree, often grown in a clump of 3 stems, provides a sense of airiness to the landscape with its tall canopy that moves in the wind. The green leaves of spring and summer turn warm yellow in the fall. It features salmon-cream to brownish bark which exfoliates to reveal a creamy white inner bark, providing wonderful winter interest.
Cercidiphylum japonium (Katsura Tree): This deciduous shade tree has a dense, rounded habit and is grown for its beautiful shape, shaggy bark and attractive heart shaped leaves. The color, too, is exceptional. The leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer and turn wonderful shades of gold, orange and red in the fall. The fallen autumn leaves have been varyingly described as smelling of cinnamon, burnt sugar or ripe apples. This unusual shade tree truly has multi-season interest.

Cornus florida and Cornus kousa (Dogwood): Dogwoods are small, understory trees that offer multiple seasons of interest. Cornus florida varieties such as ‘Cherokee Chief’, ‘Cherokee Brave’ and ‘Cherokee Princess’ bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. Cornus kousa varieties such as ‘Milky Way’ flower a month later, after their leaves have appeared. No matter your choice, the deep pink, red and purple tones of the autumn foliage add tone and dimension to the landscape.

Gingko biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ (Maindenhair Tree): This lovely tree has unique fan-shaped green foliage that turns brilliant golden yellow in fall. Its symmetrical branching creates an exceptional upright landscape accent, and it becomes a handsome shade tree with age. Interestingly, it is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth up to 150 million years ago.

Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ (Tupelo): One of the most beautiful native trees of North America, this variety has excellent pyramidal form that displays brilliant, neon red fall color. It is one of the most stunning autumn foliage choices. The new spring growth is orange-red, changing to glossy green as it matures. Winter interest comes from its strong branching structure and dark bark, creating a stunning silhouette.

Prunus (Flowering Cherry): Whether you choose the spectacular show of double flowered pink blossoms on pendulous branches of the Weeping Higan Cherry, or the pure white cloud of delicate flowers of the Yoshino Cherry, or the large ruffled pink flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry, you will have a beautiful spring show. And it is worth noting that the foliage of Cherry trees turns a warm yellow color in autumn.

Stewartia pseudocamellia: This is a small, slow-growing, pyramidal deciduous tree. It has showy cup- shaped flowers with orange-yellow centers, similar in appearance to camellia flowers. The green foliage turns attractive shades of reddish-orange and burgundy in autumn. The bark of the Stewartia is extraordinary. It exfoliates, showing colors of reddish-brown, grey and orange, providing winter color, texture and interest.

The Value of Evergreens: New England has a rich and beautiful community of conifers and evergreen plants which provide welcome color and structure in the garden in the depths of winter. They offer sculptural and architectural qualities and serve as the backdrop to other plantings. In addition, they offer protection for birds. One of winter’s joys is to watch the activity at a birdfeeder placed near a conifer, as the birds alternately perch on the branches and swing over to the feeder. Bird baths and pieces of sculpture also offer points of interest in the winter landscape.



There are a surprising number of perennials that bloom into the fall season. Here are a few to consider.
Aconitum (Monk’s Hood)
Amsonia hubrectii
Anemone (Japanese Anemone) ‘Honorine Jobert’, ‘September Charm’
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago)
Chelone (Turtlehead)
Geranium ‘Rozanne’
Ornamental Grasses
Note: Not all perennials have to be cut back in the fall. Think of the plants that have interesting texture or have seeds that can attract birds to your yard, such as Echinacea (coneflowers), Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan), Sedum, ornamental grasses and sunflowers.


.. Maybe Even the best time for planting…

It happens every year, people from towns near and far make their spring pilgrimage to Mahoney’s. They come filled with anticipation of new perennials, lush lawns, and flowering shrubs. Simply put, it’s spring, and they want to plant something. No question of course, that spring is a great time to plant, but what many people don’t realize is that fall is not only an equally good time to plant, in many ways it’s better.

To understand why, it’s good to remember that plants do not think like people. While we lament the end of summer, plants – especially newly planted plants – find the cooler days far less stressful. We may dig in our closets for a sweater, but for plants the soil feels warm, which boosts root growth. And while fall rains seem gloomy to us, plants much prefer it to the hot dry summer. And this is true for a whole host of plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, ornamental grasses and even your lawn. Practically anything planted now will have extra time to establish, so when it’s time to grow and flower next year, it will give you a great show at your house, not at the garden center.



Fact is, if the ground isn’t frozen and you can still dig the hole, you can still plant. Planting in September and October however allows that much more time for plants to become established, so sooner is better.

There are other reasons fall is a great time for planting. Unlike a lot of garden centers that wind down for the year, Mahoney’s brings in lots of fresh new plants every fall, especially shrubs. Check out our new shipments arriving daily. Planting them now will allow you to enjoy the foliage throughout all seasons, including color changes this fall.

Fall is also the unofficial “hide your neighbor” season. Why, we’re not sure, but a lot of people plant hedges in the fall. We’ll have fresh arborvitae, boxwood and other hedging evergreens as well as privet, hydrangeas, ninebark, spirea, weigela and many more deciduous shrubs. (Social note: for neighbors that need immediate hiding, we carry large and fast growing hedge shrubs. The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is especially popular)

Also very popular in the fall are miniature evergreens for urns, containers and window boxes. They add a festive touch for the holidays, and with a little protective care they will survive in a container through the winter. If you want to be greeted with tulips, daffodils and other flowers next spring, you have to plant the bulbs in fall.

Perennials especially benefit from the extra time in the ground before next spring. We bring in a lot of fresh perennials in the fall – especially the fall blooming varieties. We also have a wide selection of ornamental grasses – great for landscapes or containers.

Speaking of grasses, fall is the very best time to pay attention to your lawn. Not only do most lawns need a serious pick-me-up after the summer heat and dry spells, the warm fall soil encourages quick germination and cool air temperatures reduce stress.




Fall Lawn Care Tips

Time is of the essence when it comes to fall lawn care. Start fall lawn care once summer has ended and before cold, winter weather begins. Assess your lawn for summer damage and tailor your fall lawn care routine to address your lawn’s specific needs.

If possible, we recommend planting grass seed at least 45 days before the first fall frost to allow for proper germination before the winter hits.


Remove Excess Thatch

Thatch is a layer of organic matter consisting of stems, dead grass, and leaves, that builds up above the soil and below the crown of the grass blades. Thatch is a normal part of every lawn, but too much thatch can cause headaches for your yard.

Thatch buildup that is more than ½ an inch thick on your lawn can block access to air, water, and nutrients that grass seedlings need to grow. Excess thatch on your lawn can also harbor disease-causing fungi and insects that weaken and ultimately kill your grass.

Remove excess thatch by using a metal rake, but do not rake so vigorously that healthy green grass is removed from your lawn.


Aerate Compacted Soil

Compacted soil can inhibit healthy root development and limit the flow of oxygen to the soil. Soil must be loose and porous prior to seeding for grass seedlings to germinate and grow.

Core aeration removes soil plugs from your yard, therefore creating space in the soil for air, water, and necessary nutrients to travel to your lawn’s root system. You can manually do this with an aerating tool, or rent a gas-powered aerator.

If you’re looking for an alternative to heavy and unwieldy aerators, Jonathan Green Love Your Soil® naturally loosens compacted soil and increases necessary airflow to your lawn’s root system. Plus, you don’t need extra equipment, it’s easily applied with the same spreader you use for grass seed and fertilizer.


Overseed a Thinning Lawn



If you want a thicker, greener lawn for spring, fall is the perfect time to overseed! The hot, summer sun has probably done a number on your grass, causing thin or dead spots. Take advantage of the fall season’s warm soil temperatures, ample moisture, and cool nights to thicken up a thinning lawn.

To prepare your lawn for overseeding, adjust your mower to the lowest setting and mow the area you want to seed. Be sure to bag clippings afterward. After mowing, rake the area with a metal rake to create grooves in the soil and remove dead grass and debris. This will help grass seeds make seed-to-soil contact and improve the rate of germination.

Next, spread grass seed. For larger areas, spread seed with a rotary spreader. You should wait until your new grass grows to about four inches before mowing.



Feed Your Lawn

Fertilizing your cool-season lawn during fall is important to repair summer damage, supply it with nutrients to withstand the brutal winter months, and green up quicker in spring.

Cool season grasses like to be fertilized twice in the fall – one application in early fall (late August to September) and another in late fall (late October to November). The first application helps strengthen weak or brown spots from summer and the second helps to protect your lawn against winter disease. Make sure your second application occurs before the ground freezes.

Opt for a fertilizer rich in both potassium and nitrogen (the N and in the NPK ratio found on the front of fertilizer bags) such as Winter Survival Fall Lawn Fertilizer. Nitrogen aids in plant growth and greener grass. Potassium builds stronger cell walls and root systems, which helps your lawn endure times of stress and harsh weather conditions.


Lawn Mower Height

As your grass is still growing throughout fall, it is important to continue to maintain a regular mowing schedule. Once grass growth begins to slow down, lower your mower height to about 2.5 inches. For the last mow of fall, which will usually be between late October to early November, drop your mower to 2 inches to discourage winter disease, such as snow mold.


Watering the Lawn

Fall weather signals the end of sweltering, summer heat and the need to frequently water your lawn. Rainfall in autumn results in less evaporation and more moisture so your lawn can sustain itself. While this means your grass needs less to drink in the fall, this doesn’t mean you should stop watering altogether. Water your lawn as needed, making sure it receives about one inch of water per week, including rainfall. Continue to water your lawn until the ground freezes.


Remove Leaves

While fall leaves may look picturesque on your lawn they can be harmful to your grass. Leaving piled-up leaves on your lawn blocks necessary sunlight for new grass seedlings. If your lawn is damp, wet leaves can encourage lawn fungus and kill the grass underneath.

Remove leaves from your lawn by using a leaf blower or a rake. For newly seeded lawns it is best to use a leaf blower, as a rake may damage or hinder new seedlings from growing.  If you choose to rake, carefully glide the rake over the leaves when the soil is dry to remove them.






Patriotic Plants: The Mighty Oak

July 4th is upon us – the day we celebrate the birth of our nation. Looking back to 1776, trees and the lumber they provided were a critical natural resource, providing the raw material for shipbuilding. While modes of transportation have changed in the 247 years since our independence was declared, trees are still an important symbol of our nation’s strength and identity.  

Their ongoing importance was recognized in 2004 when Congress passed legislation designating the Oak as America’s National Tree. The Oak was selected by a vote hosted by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in which Americans of all ages and from all walks of life chose the Oak over 20 other varieties of tree to be our national symbol.  

There are more than 90 species of Quercus, the Latin name for Oak, growing in the United States. They have been an important part of our national history and folklore. Did you know that the USS Constitution took its nickname “Old Ironsides” from the strength of its oak hull? 

Today, oaks are recognized as playing a crucial role in the ecosystems of our world:  

  • Oaks lead the list of trees in providing food for insects, birds and other animals.  
  • They support almost 900 caterpillar species across the US, far more than the number supported by any other genus.  
  • Birds forage longer in oaks because those caterpillars provide high value food, especially for baby birds.  
  • Animals such as squirrels and Blue Jays find acorns a rich source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. 
  • Leaf litter provides habitat for many beneficial organisms, supporting a diversity and abundance of life. 
  • An oak’s canopy and root system are important in water filtration, helping rain percolate instead of running off, and purifying it in the process.
  • Oak trees sequester carbon.


So many reasons to celebrate our national tree on our nation’s birthday!