If you haven't blown out your sprinkler system or harvested your tomatoes, you are in luck. Fort Collins' average first frost date has come and gone.
But don't press your luck. Fitting
Prepare now for the inevitable to save yourself headaches later. Here's how:
The city's first frost (32 degrees) typically hits around Oct. 5. On average, there is a 5% chance of the overnight low dropping to 32 degrees by Oct. 2 and a 90% chance by Oct. 17.
That temperature can do damage to tender annuals and vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.
There is a 50% chance of our first freeze (28 degrees) by Oct. 11 and a 90% chance by Oct. 26.
That temperature will significantly damage annuals and vegetables and, if sustained, can damage the above-ground parts of your sprinkler system if it is left charged.
Commercial landscape companies typically will blow out your system for about $60, depending on how many zones your system has. Call for the service sooner rather than later.
If you or a friend has an air compressor large enough, you can blow out the sprinkler system yourself.
If we get a cold snap but the forecast calls for warmer weather to return, you can do a quick drain and then recharge the system when the temperature warms. If you don't want to risk it, you can blow out the system for the winter.
How to quick drain your sprinkler system
How to perform a sprinkler blowout
Watering: The city of Fort Collins asks residents to turn off sprinkler systems by Oct. 1 to save residents money and help the city's water supply.
If your lawn is particularly dry, give it one last good soak.
Mowing: Leave the blade length about 2 1/2 to 3 inches.
Fertilizing: If fertilization is done once per year, the best time is in October and November when the grass is still green. Even if you fertilized more than once, fall is a good time to fertilize.
Lawn "winterizing'' fertilizer is a marketing tool. Simply look for a slow-release product with a ratio like 12-2-6 or some similar ratio.
Aerating (core cultivation): Best done in early September to mid-October. Water the lawn a couple days before aerating to soften the ground and allow for deeper plugs. The goal is to get 2- to 3-inch plugs.
Mark all sprinkler heads and shallow irrigation to prevent damage.
Leave the plugs to break down into the lawn.
To protect tomatoes, peppers and annual flower containers from frost, use a cloth covering slightly raised so the covering does not touch the plants. Tomato cages work best for this. Do not place a plastic cover directly on plants, as that can result in frost damage.
Sluice Gate Valve Underground vegetables like carrots and beets are much more forgiving and don't need covering.