Summer, a favourite season for many southern Albertans, has officially come to an end.
Wednesday marked the autumnal equinox, with many city trees already turning yellow to mark the occasion.
To read more about how to care for your garden heading into fall, click here, and for more tips from Environment Lethbridge as the weather cools down, click here.
Will the hot and dry summer affect fall?
Kyle Fougere, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said June through August saw very dry and hot conditions in the Lethbridge region.
“In a typical summer we’d see 162 millimetres of precipitation in the Lethbridge area,” he explained. “This year, we were 100 short of that, receiving only 62 milimetres, which made it the seventh driest summer that we have on record.
“It was the fourth warmest summer on record, because we had this ridge of high pressure that was over the province.”
Throughout the first part of September, those trends have continued, but Fougere explained there is some good news when it comes to moisture.
“We have seen this above-normal trend continue, we haven’t seen these extreme temperatures like we (saw) in June and July,” he added.
“For precipitation we are expecting it to be more around normal for this time of year.”
Lawn and garden maintenance for fall
Green Haven Garden Centre, located just outside the city, is in the process of transitioning into the fall and winter months.
Karen Barby, co-owner and manager, encourages people to shift their tactics as they care for their lawns and gardens — that includes watering and fertilizing less, while pruning trees and other plants where necessary.
“If you still have your underground sprinklers on, cut them to 50 per cent,” she said. “You don’t want to be watering the same way you were in the summer.”
She adds now is the correct time to plants bulbs.
“In the spring we gets lots of people looking for tulips, but tulips have to be planted in September, October,” she said. “They need winter.”
When it comes to fertilizing, Barby said encouraging growth at this time of year isn’t a good move, but rather using a fall fertilizer on grass can help strengthen roots.
The city’s three yard waste sites are open until Nov. 14, and accept items such as small branches, grass, leaves, garden clippings, clean pumpkins, and fallen fruit.
Caring for birds, bugs, and your utility bill
“One of the big things is keeping all of that yard waste out of the landfill,” said Kathleen Sheppard.
Sheppard, the executive director with Environment Lethbridge, said it’s a misconception that cleaning up all yard waste is necessary.
“(We encourage) people to leave some of that material behind over the winter, it’s great habitat for some of the little bugs and things that we want to encourage in our garden all year round, and it also provides nutrients (for your lawn).
“You don’t have to rake up every leaf, you can leave a few behind.”
Sheppard said protecting local bird species from disease is also an important item to consider.
“Lots of people have bird feeders, and quite a few people taken them down in the summer because birds can find their own food,” Sheppard explained.
“When you’re putting them back up, be sure to give them a good bleaching and a good cleaning before you put them back up, and try and do that throughout the winter as well.”
She also suggests taking steps to protect homes before the weather takes a turn for the worse.
“Now’s a great time to be thinking about things like sealing up any drafts you have around windows and doors,” she said. “Same goes for things like changing your furnace filter, getting those kinds of energy efficiency things ready for the cold weather.”