Don’t Let Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns Ruin Your Landscape

Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns are able to ruin your landscape. It’s something we just don’t consider when we are preparing for the scary and fun autumn holiday. We worry about keeping landscape plants healthy and decorating our homes just right to capture the imagination. But, most of us do not stop to think about what Halloween brings to our homes, besides trick-or-treaters. Your craftily carved Halloween pumpkin is a big temptation to unwanted guests who come in various shapes and sizes.

How to Make a Pumpkin Last Longer

Many homeowners unwittingly make a number of big landscaping mistakes and unfortunately, one is not being aware of what Halloween pumpkins attract to their yards and homes. So, it’s good to know the best proactive step to take is to make your pumpkin last longer – this will help to discourage pests. Since you want the best Jack-o’-Lantern in the neighborhood, you’ve got to start with picking out the right pumpkin.

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how to transform that porch pumpkin into a work of art. But before you carve up a masterpiece only to watch it wither away, it helps to understand the life and death of a Jack-o’-lantern. Pumpkins are organic, so there’s no way to stop the rotting process indefinitely. The best way to ensure the longevity of your Jack-o’-lantern is to begin with a healthy pumpkin. While there’s no such thing as the “perfect” pumpkin, there are several things you can look for to get your Jack-o’-lantern off to a great start. –

If possible, choose pumpkin that’s grown locally because it will be the freshest. Inspect the skin, looking for gouges and/or blemishes. These imperfections might add a whole bunch of character but they promote rot, which attracts pests. Stay away from soft fruits as these are already in the process of rotting. To keep it fresh longer, understand the moment the skin is broken (when you make the first carving cut), the clock starts ticking. Organisms such as fungi, bacteria, molds, and insects are attracted to the rot process.

How to Protect Your Landscape and Home from Halloween Jack-o’-Lantern Pests

When you are ready to decorate your home and yard for Halloween, you need it to remain safe and pest free. Unfortunately, there are many elements which cause safety hazards to exists and also invite pests. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to protect your landscape and home from Halloween Jack-o’-Lantern pests:

  • Carve your pumpkin(s) outside. Okay, so you live in sunny, heat-breaking record Sarasota (105 days this year above 90 degrees Fahrenheit this summer), but you should carve pumpkins outside. But the mess created from pumpkin carving is a big one. Lay old plywood across saw horses on your lawn and carve away. Don’t do this on your sidewalk or driveway because the pulp is just too slippery. Lay plastic underneath to catch the pulp so it is easy to clean up.
  • Pick up all tools and organic material. When you are finished carving, be sure to pick up all the tools and organic material. Tools are tripping hazards and the pulp is not only slippery, it’s also a giant meal for all kinds of furry pests and insects alike. A slippery area isn’t something you want on your property when people are out on Halloween. Not to mention the putrid odor rotting pulp emits, which is downright unpleasant, to say the least.
  • Set insect traps all around the pumpkins. As mentioned above, once the pumpkin skin is pierced, it starts the rotting process right away. Take precautions by setting insect traps nearby and all around. While this won’t ward off all the pests, it will substantial deter insects.
  • Consider using hard shell gourds, instead. Hard-shell gourds are a winter squash, ripening in the fall and only edible in their early stages of growth. It’s best to grow and cure hard-shell gourds months before Halloween. But if you have these available, you can carve them instead of pumpkin. Cured hard-shell gourds make permanent Halloween Jack-o’-Lanterns, unlike pumpkin.
  • Compost or throw out pumpkin at first sign of rot. When you see any signs of rot on a pumpkin, it’s time to throw it out or add it to the compost pile. Do this as soon as possible because the fruit will only get softer and eventually, too soft to pick up whole. At that stage, it’s a really big mess to deal with and you’ll have to clean up after it more.

If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

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