November is here, but it seems to be missing something. Where are the frigid mornings, the frost covered grasses, the bare tree branches? The holidays are approaching, but sunny skies and mild temperatures make it feel more like early fall then the beginning of winter. Even the leaves are holding onto Indian summer, keeping a tenacious grip on their branches and their brilliant color.
Temperatures have been unusually warm lately, and not just for Marylanders. Mild weather has been reported throughout the US, and is expected to continue through November. What effect does this have on leaf activity in our area? Trees respond to cooler temperatures in the fall by forming a corky barrier between each branch and leaf stem, blocking the flow of nutrients. This includes the nutrient responsible for a leaf’s usual green color: chlorophyll. As the green from old chlorophyll fades, the dormant colors we anticipate in the fall shine through. Eventually, all pigments will break down, and the dying leaf falls to the ground.
The warmer than average temperatures this autumn are, predictably, slowing the process. A lack of blustery weather and heavy rains has also played a part, as calm weather allows leaves to hold on longer, rather than collecting on the ground well before the holiday season begins. This is great news for autumn enthusiasts, who have been gifted an extended window for viewing the changing colors and soaking up plenty of pre-winter sunshine, but leaves homeowners with the arduous task of performing yardwork and lawn maintenance alongside preparing for holiday parties and time with family.
It may be tempting to leave the raking for a future, less busy time, but procrastination could spell bad news for the healthy return of your lawn come springtime. Rotting leaves block air, light, and other nutrients from reaching your lawn, causing weakened root systems and allowing mold, bacteria and tree diseases to move in and wreak havoc.
If you’re feeling the stress of the holidays, or would simply prefer to spend your free time enjoying the warm temperatures rather than tending to your lawn, give JFC Grounds Maintenance a call. We’ll take over the health of your lawn this fall so you can get back to football, brisk autumn hikes and Thanksgiving dinner!