Dispose of Diseased Maple Leaves
Did you notice 1/2 to 1 inch, round, black spots on the leaves of your maple trees this summer and fall? This is the aptly named fungus disease called tar spot. While the fungus doesn't do any long term harm to trees, it is unsightly and can cause leaves to drop early. Norway maples are especially susceptible. To control tar spot, rake and destroy infected leaves in the fall, and encourage nearby neighbors with infected trees to do the same.
Prepare Your Holiday Cactus for Bloom
Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera hybrids) set flower buds in response to the shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall. Bring plants into bloom around holiday time by giving them 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness nightly for 6-8 weeks. Plants will also set flower buds if exposed to 50-55 degree F nights, regardless of day length.
Do Corrective Pruning of Trees and Shrubs
Late fall, after the leaves have dropped from deciduous trees and shrubs and you can see their structure clearly, is a good time to survey these plants for broken and rubbing branches, those with narrow crotch angles that are prone to breakage and branches growing back into the center of the tree. Targeted pruning when the plants are becoming dormant will not stimulate new growth.
Lighten your work load for next spring by weeding beds around trees and shrubs, then renewing the layer of mulch around them. Just be sure to keep mulch several inches away from the bases of trees and shrubs and keep the layer no more than 3 inches deep.
Keep Up With Lawn Care
Now is a good time to spread lime if a soil test shows that your soil pH needs to be raised for optimal grass growth. Most lawn grasses do best if the pH is between 6 and 7.5. Keep raking leaves so that they don't mat down and smother the lawn. As the leaves start to fall from the trees, gradually begin reducing mowing height, bringing it down to 1 1/2 inches by the final mowing.