Kitchener-Waterloo

Dry September means plants need watering to winter well, says expert

A dry September in Waterloo Region means gardeners should be heading outside to water their plants before the ground freezes, says a local gardening expert.

Gardening expert Perry Grobe says you should mow your lawn in October as well

A dry September in Waterloo Region means gardeners should be heading outside to water their plants before the ground freezes, says a local gardening expert. (Radio-Canada)

A dry September in Waterloo Region means gardeners should be heading outside to water their plants before the ground freezes, said a local gardening expert.

Perry Grobe, owner of Grobe's Nursery and Garden Centre in Breslau, said watering is one way to try to prevent plants from getting injured over winter — especially after a month of little precipitation.

"September was a lot drier than I think a lot of people realize," he told Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio Thursday.

"Evergreens particularly and many shrubs too, they prepare for winter now. If the water is not present for them to do that, they run the risk of having more injuries through the winter months than they normally would."

Grobe said it's important to remember that plants need to be maintained and well-watered at this time of year.

"There's an assumption that if we plant it, mother nature will take care of it because it's fall," he said. 

Breslau gardening expert Perry Grobe says you can still plant shrubs and trees in late fall, but make sure you water them well. (Shutterstock)
​The effects of a dry September is yet to be seen, according to Grobe, but he mentioned that dryness tends to delay the normal processes that plants undergo to prepare for winter.

Here's Grobe's list of five gardening tips before snow falls:

1. Mow your lawn 

Yes, you can still mow your lawn in October.

"In some ways, it's better to have grass a little shorter going into the winter than a lot longer," he said. 

2. Rake your leaves 

Grobe said people tend to leave the leaves on their lawns throughout the winter months, even though removing it may cut down on fungal diseases on the lawn.

"I think actually it would be better if you composted it and put it somewhere else in your garden," he said.

Breslau gardening expert Perry Grobe says you can still plant shrubs and trees in late fall, but make sure you water them well. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

3. Plant something

"You can plant right up until the ground freezes. In most years, that's well into early November," Grobe said.

4. Fertilizer your lawn but not your plants

Grobe said fertilizing the lawn will help it to be more tolerant of the cold by helping grass produce more sugar, but plants won't see the same benefit.

"It's a dangerous thing. You really should leave them alone. Because you don't want to have them pushed into new growth as they are getting ready for winter. New growth is more much suspectible to winter injury."

5. Hold off on the burlap for now

Should gardeners be wrapping their evergreens in burlap to prevent them from moisture loss over winter? Grobe said not until November because it's still too warm for it to be a good idea now.

"Oh goodness, it's a little bit too early for that. Generally speaking, when the weather really is lousy, and you hate to do the job, that's really when it should be done," he said.

With files from Muriel Draaisma

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