Top Notch Landscapes

Boo! 👻 October Newsletter

Fall Pumpkins


Boo! 👻 It’s October!….

That means it’s my birthday, my son Silas’ 3rd birthday and Halloween. So, it’s always a full month! 

Silas was born the day after my birthday when my 8 1/2 month pregnant wife and I went out to eat for my birthday. We had a wild hair and went out to have hibachi and sushi for our celebration dinner. I’m not much of a fish or sushi fan but, I was down for something different. My brother told her to have some spicy food to encourage Silas to come early. Well, she ate a fair share of wasabi and what do you know? Silas was born within 12 hours of that meal! I’d say it worked. He shares my middle name, Ray. This year we’ll be celebrating together with Ninja Turtle Birthday Party, a jump-house, pizza and cake! 

Cowabunga Ninja Turtles
Cowabunga!

Later in the month, we’ll be partying with the rest of the community on Main Street for the first annual fall stroll.

Top Notch Shirt
Top Notch T-Shirts Supporting Caddo Fire Department

We’ll have a booth set up along with other local vendors. We’ll be giving out candy, meeting new people and telling our story. We’ll also be selling t-shirts and raffling a gift basket to support the Caddo fire department. After that, we’ll go next door to the fire station for food and games and then wander the neighborhood trick-or-treating. Sounds like a good time!


Top Notch Landscapes time in October is mostly occupied by the winter color change. We plant over 1,500 flats in the month. That’s 27,000 plants! Woah! We’ll be pulling the summer annuals and replanting with pansies and kale. Some common summer annuals are zinnias and periwinkle. We also plant josephs coat for a border and perilla as a backdrop for accents In some areas. In perennial beds, we cut back plants like lantana and blackfoot daisy and plant pansies and kale in their place for winter color. This is a good way to be easy on the pocket book because the summer perennials come back in the spring and don’t have to be replanted. 


We’re wrapping up the Gracey project and are very pleased with how it has turned out. Even better, the Gracey’s are happy. Check out these before and after’s to see for yourself. 

Gracey's Before and After
The Gracey’s Before/After

This is the first time we’ve used this much cedar mulch. It was a special request by Mr. Gracey and I think it grew on me. I may have to use it more often. That brings me to a good point. 

Mulch is an underrated feature in a landscape although it has many uses, applications and benefits. Mulch, in general, conserves soil moisture, maintains soil temperature, and prevents soil erosion. Also, and arguably more importantly, mulch decomposes over time and feeds soil microorganisms which in turn feeds the plants in our landscapes. Mulch helps replicate the forest floor for our landscape plants in what would otherwise be barren soil in our urban environments. 

The natural wood bark also brings in it’s own fungus adding to the diversity of the soil fauna.

Gracey's Mulch
The Gracey’s Cedar Mulch

Many times, you will see mushrooms shortly after fresh mulch has been applied for this reason. And, if you dig around in old mulch, you’ll notice areas where it is caked together with white matter that resembles roots or spider weeds. That’s fungal hyphae, the “roots” of fungus”. This fungus is breaking down the wood matter and feeding it to the plants. 

Fungus has a symbiotic relationship with plants. Fungal hyphae actually penetrate the root and feed it directly. And, given that fungal hyphae can grow exponentially further in soil then roots, the hyphae can bring water and nutrients to the plant that it would not be able to reach otherwise. 

Cedar mulch, specifically, has pretty light red color which fades to a light tan. It has a pleasant aroma and is a natural insect repellent! Cedar is one of the most common trees in our area so it is also a very locally sourced product. 

I’ve also received several requests for my opinion on recycled rubber mulch. Being a plant and soils nerd, I always discourage rubber mulch. It has none of the benefits of natural mulch and in many cases has the reverse effects. 


Did You Know

Did you know? Fungus is the largest terrestrial organism on Earth?! Armillaria solidipes or commonly known as Honey fungus in the Blue Mountains of Oregan spreads over 3.4 miles across and may be over 2,000 years old. 


What To Do In The Garden

Speaking of mulch, it’s a great time to add mulch to beds. I recommend at

Mulch Donut vs Volcano

least 4” of a native bark mulch rather it be pine, cedar or hardwood. Expect to replace 1” of mulch per year due to decomposition.

Mulch around trees to 4” deep but do not put any mulch against the bark of a tree. Remember, you want a mulch donut, not a mulch volcano.

Before mulching, trim hedges like boxwoods and hollies in the garden. Also, cut back all perennial flowers like lantana and salvia. You can save the seed from plants like coreopsis and coneflower but be sure to allow them to fully mature and the seeds to dry before storing. Perennial bunching plants like iris, cast iron plant and hostas can be divided if they’re crowding each other.

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Thanks for Reading!

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