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October Landscapes – Time to Switch to Fall/Winter Color!


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Out with the old, in with the new!

Pansies, Mums, Kale make their appearance in nurseries this week

Though Fall officially began over a week ago, down here in Texas we’re still feeling very much like summer. Nevertheless, we must move on with Fall plans in anticipation of Fall’s arrival here soon.

The first week of October will be when the winter flowers will debut in the nurseries. I normally avoid the first wave of flowers as they’re so small I can’t determine whether they’re stunted or not. Sometimes, they are. So I wait on the second wave, when the flowers are bigger and have had a little extra time to grow.

For Fall, Mums (short for Chrysanthemum) continue to be very popular. They become large, soft, cushion of color featuring yellow, peach, red, orange, white and also various shades of pink. They come in various sizes, some very large while others are mini-mums.

Aster is another flower you can plant in fall, treating them as annuals. Fall is their bloom time and they’ll provide a striking display of blue, white, purple and pink (depending on which variety you get).

Dianthus is another flower that blooms during cooler weather. In Texas, they will survive both most of our winters and summers but when the heat breaks and Fall weather sets in, Dianthus puts on a show. Plant them near your entry so visitors may enjoy their pleasant scent. Dianthus comes in a wide range of colors and combinations.

The flowers above will not survive a cold North Texas winter, so many folks forego the Fall display and go right to the Winter color – Pansies and Kale. Both of these will survive through our winters and continue blooming until temperatures reach 85 on a consistent basis next spring. So they have great staying power and will sail right through a North Texas snowfall.



Pansies are small plants that grow 2-3 inches tall and bloom large flowers. Pansies come in single color blooms, bicolor blooms and tricolor blooms. Many different color combinations exist and more are being created all the time. They look great in a mixed color display, or in a single-color or two contrasting colors.

If you have black clay soil, using a hoe, break up the clay in the planting area. Mix in a good helping of landscape mix/planter’s mix with abundant organic matter. Mix together with the clay to give a well-draining planting area that will also be able to maintain some moisture. Because you’ve added the landscape mix, you will have a planting area that is higher that everything around it. This is exactly what you want because it enables the flowers to drain and not sit in water during rainy weather.

Ornamental Kale is another fall/winter color selection that will grow through mid-spring. There are many different types of kale to choose from, some with lacy deep purple leaves, others with large thick leaves – offering dramatic color and texture throughout the season.


Kale is significantly larger than a Pansy, so in many cases Kale is planted and then surrounded by pansies.

If you want dramatic effect with your pansies, pack them tight when planting. For example, if you like the way the Pansies look in the flat you bought them in, then plant them with the same minimal spacing you see them arranged in the flat.

Winter Rye Grass

If you want to have rich, green grass throughout the winter, now is the time to sew winter rye grass in your lawn.

To do this yourself, first purchase the seed. In this case, pure winter rye is not always the best choice. You will see products advertised as “winter rye mix” which contains other grasses (looking like rye) that are a little more durable than the rye itself. 

To prepare, you must mow your lawn very short, more or less scalping it. You must also remove all of the clippings from the lawn so the use of a bag with your mower may be helpful here. What you’re trying to set up is good soil-to-seed contact.



Once preparation is finished, you can use a common walk behind spreader to put your seed down. The thicker you put it down, the better results you will have. You will lose some seed to the birds and also wind/rain unless you get lucky with the weather. 

It is helpful to put down a 20-25-0-0 fertilizer down right after putting the seed down. This will help speed up germination. Once that’s done, you’ll need to water 2-3 times a day for a week or two, until the grass comes up.

If after two weeks you do not have the coverage (amount of grass) coming up that you desired, you may put down a second application to get it fuller.

I recommend that you fertilize every other month.

Fall/Halloween Displays

Don’t be afraid to show some Fall spirit or decorate for Halloween. When you decorate, you make the whole neighborhood more attractive and “fun.”

I remember well when I was a youngster how so many of the houses would be decorated for Halloween and make Trick-or-Treating all the more fun. One family conducted their own haunted house, 25 cents admission!

Decorations can be simple, such as bales of hay, pumpkins, scarecrows, etc., arranged in any way you like. Fall wreaths are always beautiful with their Fall colors. I encourage all the embrace the Fall and celebrate it while its here!


Outdoor Christmas Lighting/Decorations

Now would be a good time to consult with your landscaper (provided they do Christmas Lights) for the purpose of planning and setting dates for the installation of your Christmas Lights.

Over the years, people have seemingly moved up the date they want their lights up and now most want them up before Thanksgiving. So rather than try to make contact during the rush, do so now and avoid the headaches.

Tree Trimming

October is also a great time to trim up your trees in anticipation of winter precipitation. I’ve lived in Texas all my life, long enough to know that sooner or later, we get what we have coming. The last two years, winter has been almost non-existent here. I’m betting we see a change this year.

Removing excess limbs, dead limbs, redundancy, etc, now can avoid crisis in the event of snow or ice.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


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  • joeywa pinned this topic
  • 4 weeks later...

For the past several days, our crews have been busy with the clean up of a North Dallas neighborhood that was struck by the Tornado.

I have to say it's affected me more than I anticipated.

I have three customers who reside in the middle of the tornado path. Their homes are badly, badly damaged. As of today, there is still no electricity to the area.

When we arrived the first day, it took hours just to be able to get to them. We literally had to cut away the trees that were laying across the street.

This neighborhood is an old one, but is full of expensive homes with trees that WERE 100 years old or better. They hung over the street on each side, providing a very pretty arch of shade.

Today, those trees are either gone or are so badly damaged that they'll have to come down. The neighborhood looks totally different.

We have, unfortunately, witnessed price gouging by some contractors. One offered to remove two trees for $6K. We're removing them for 1/3 of that. It makes me mad that there are those who would try to take advantage of tornado victims.

Here are some photos I've taken this week.









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Precautionary actions are in order as a Freeze Warning has been issued for North Texas tonight and tomorrow.
Wrap the trunks of Palms in Burlap wrap. 
Pindo Palms – gather the limbs together in a straight up and down fashion and tie them together with twine. Tie the limbs in several places.
Wrap or cover your outdoor spigots!!




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