Unlike your commercial customers, homeowners who use your company for lawn care may opt to assume personal responsibility for maintaining those beautiful gardens you installed for them. While they may prefer to tend to their flower beds themselves, don’t be surprised if they hit you up for free advice occasionally – especially at this time of year.
Here are a few tips you may want to share with them as summer turns into fall, courtesy of Mariani Landscape, an award-winning company in Lake Bluff, Illinois, outside Chicago:
Know your zone
The first step in transitioning your garden from summer to fall is to know your gardening zone. Let your clients know about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s map for gardeners that’s based on the average of low-temperature readings throughout the country, with one being the coldest and 13 the hottest.
Tell them their zone will determine when they should start the transition of the garden from summer to fall. According to Mariani Landscape, they’ll probably want to make the switch when temperatures are consistently dropping below 70 degrees.
Tell clients to think about where they want their garden to be – visually – during the seasonal transition.
Are they looking to stretch their display garden through the fall to the early winter? Or once fall arrives, are they content to discontinue the plant display in their beds until the spring?
If the former, they’ll need to rein in overgrown areas, deadhead to promote continued flowering, stop fertilizing their plants and switch out summer annuals with cold-tolerant options.
If they’re looking to put an end to their garden for the fall and winter, tell them to let the garden continue flowering and go to seed. They should deadhead as needed, leaving some stems for winter interest.
Making it last
To “stretch” the garden’s seasonal longevity, use the right perennials, annuals and edibles, Mariani suggests.
For clients who are stretching the season of their gardens, make sure they’re planting late-season greens. Perennials such as mums and asters, along with decorative grasses like Toffee Twist Sedge, make for a beautiful fall arrangement.
Ornamental cabbages and kales can also add appeal to the bed and will last through the first frost. Clusters of gourds, meanwhile, can offer some color and texture to the garden during the fall.
Some other annuals they should consider adding to their beds as the weather turns cooler include African daisies, snap dragons, pansies, violas and nasturtiums.
Keep soil healthy
When making the switch to fall, it’s easy to forget how important it is to keep the soil healthy throughout the cooler months. Adding a layer of organic materials like composted shredded-leaf mulch gives soil the nutrients and consistency conducive to the overall health of plants.
When stretching the season in the garden, Mariani Landscape advises tilling some compost into the top several inches of soil.
And finally, remind your clients to begin planning for next spring. The right bulbs for their zone need to be planted before the ground freezes.
Sharing Mariani’s great advice is bound to strengthen your business relationship with residential clients. And who knows, they may decide to just turn the process over to your company.