Topsoil for the fall planting season

Topsoil Carmel NY for the Fall Planting Season

Author: Michael Galli, Owner, Hickory Homes, Westchester County. Posted August 16th, 2016

Spring and fall tend to be the seasons that most people associate with planting. As we approach the fall, here are some facts about getting ready for fall planting.

What typically gets planted in the fall?

It depends where you are in the US, but for most of the northern states, the fall is time to plant cool season grasses as well as other plants. Turf grass, spring-blooming bulbs, cool-season vegetables, perennials, trees, and shrubs can all be effectively planted in the fall. Typically, it’s grass, evergreens and flower bulbs that will bloom in the spring.

In Westchester County, the fall brings a change in climate and much cooler temperatures. Cool season grasses grow best when the temperatures are between 60-80 degrees. As a result, fall has distinct planting benefits. Cooler air temperatures are easier on plants and it’s much more pleasant to be out in the yard minus the hot summer sun. The soil is still warm, and insulated and allows new seedlings time to build strong roots before the first freeze as winter sets in.

The window for fall planting ends about six weeks before your area gets hit with a hard frost, and for us in Westchester County (and the northeast) that is usually September or October.

Early fall is the best time to seed. Your most successful seeding time is early September, right around Labor Day.

What is needed for successful fall planting?

Seeds, fertilizer, and topsoil are the recipe for successful planting in the fall.

Choose the seeds for whatever it is you want to grow be it grass or flowers. For your flower beds, choose your site and best planting area. Colors and patterns, and how much or how little sun will have an impact on the flower seeds you choose.

For lawn seed, a great lawn can only be grown from great grass seeds. For homeowners in Westchester County, elect a cool season grass seed. Look for NTEP rated varieties which means it has been evaluated and rated by the National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP). Those rated seeds have been bred for superior green grass color, disease and insect resistance and drought tolerance.

Get your planting topsoil absolutely right before you start. Optimal soil is absolutely critical for a good lawn; planting grass directly into heavy clay or loose gravel is a guarantee for failure. Your grass should have at least 3-5 inches of good quality topsoil in which to grow, soil which includes a balance of rich black topsoil, decayed organic material such as peat moss and compost, and some light sand to enhance drainage.

Fertilize after seeding with a starter fertilizer. Taking the time to fertilize in the fall will strengthen your plants' and lawn's roots, giving them a strong base on which to thrive next spring. You don't need to fertilize frequently, though. Once in early September after your planting, and one final time in late fall/end of October should do it.

Let’s not forget watering. The amount and the timing of watering are very important. You must keep newly seeded lawns moist by light, frequent watering in order for the seeds to germinate. Keep the soil moist (but not saturated) until the new seedlings are about 1 inch tall. Be careful: too much water can rot the seeds or wash them way.

Fall showers are generally plentiful, but it's easy to deeply water plants if it doesn't rain at least an inch per week.

Importance of topsoil or ‘Top-Dressing’

No matter how green your thumb is, you're likely to have trouble growing plants if you don't have the right conditions. It will be your biggest challenge.

Plants generally concentrate their roots in the topsoil and obtain most of their nutrients from this layer.

One of the biggest culprits behind plants that fail to grow is the type of soil being used. The wrong soil can prevent plants and your grass seed from getting the moisture, nutrients and sunlight they need to thrive. What makes gardening difficult is that there are so many different types of soil to choose from, and it can be hard to know which will work best with certain plants.

Most soil around homes does not have much organic matter, which is why gardeners often consider topsoil to add to their garden or amend their soil that is mixed with organic matter.

Why Hickory Homes topsoil vs. topsoil at retail

At Hickory Homes and Properties, we manufacture our own, organic, hi-quality, premium fine ½” screened topsoil. Our screened topsoil is a sandy loam mixture that is great for planting or lawn renovation, - it’s a 50/50% mix of compost and sandy soil.

We manufacture our own topsoil at our recycling facility in Carmel, NY.

We bring in soil from excavation projects as well as the tree leaves that the landscapers collect from properties in the spring and fall. The leaves decompose into compost after about a year and get mixed with the soil to create topsoil.

Compost is high in organic matter content and is the perfect plant food, soil amendment and disease fighter.

We put it through a screening plant called a trommel screener that screens down the material to ½”. Screened topsoil is better than unscreened; all of the rocks, roots, and various debris are removed.

All of the material (mainly rocks) that are over ½” come out a different side of the machine. These are called screener tailings which are primarily used for road base material (under driveways, roads, etc.).

It is a great way to be able to recycle all of our bi products.

Topsoil from garden centers can usually only be purchased in bags. Typically, new lawn installations need large amounts of topsoil, so buying by the bag can be costly and difficult to get from the store to your home.

At Hickory Homes, we deliver by the bulk truckload. Truckloads can range anywhere from one to twenty cubic yards.

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