Plan(t) For Fall

Plan(t) for Fall | A Unique Garden Article by Amy Ridgway

With fall approaching just around the corner, I can literally smell the change of season. For anyone else who shares this annual indulgent experience – is it our keen sensitivity or great enthusiasm that makes this time of year so remarkable? The days are shorter, the evenings are cooler, and the landscape begins to transform with an amazing display of color. Even more, fall is the best time of year to plant!

Although contrary to most habit, this time of year lends itself to ideal conditions for landscaping. While the ground is still warm, root balls can rest comfortably in new homes. Fall planted shrubs and trees expend much less energy this time of year than in the warmer spring and summer months. Cooler daytime temperatures impose less stress on their extremities (branches and flowers) as they slowly fade into winter dormancy.  In addition, the typically wetter weather in fall requires less watering.

If you have the urge to tinker in your yard between Labor Day and New Year’s Day, here are some tips to consider:

1)      Get neat. If your perennials have exhausted their blooms, trim back the dead flowers and brown foliage. Later in the fall, cover them with a layer of mulch to protect from winter elements.

2)      Divide and concur. Mature daylilies and monkey grass tend to overtake a yard, divide them and replant in another area. Adding repetition to your landscape lends itself to a great design.

3)      Add a splash of color to your flowerbeds and containers. Pansies and violas “pop” in otherwise dull winter landscapes. Wait until mid-October to buy, and make sure that the flowers aren’t root-bound. Remember to fertilize to ensure lasting beauty.

4)      Carefully plant spring bulbs like tulip, daffodil and hyacinth. Digging a hole to the appropriate depth for each bulb is a key point to their flowering.

5)      Plant or Transplant. Whether you’ve decided to move one shrub, plant a tree, or install an entire landscape, now is the time to get digging.

6)      Remove those leaves! Once the leaves have fallen, clean up! Don’t wait until spring to tackle this task. Doing it now will not only leave your landscape looking clean over the winter, your lawn will be healthier by preventing the spread of disease.

7)      Mulch. Help insulate your landscape and retain moisture by adding a layer of mulch to trees and flowerbeds.

8)      Prune Trees. Once all of the leaves are off, prune short stubs and dead limbs from trees. This is especially important in areas that are prone to ice storms – weak branches make for hazardous conditions.

Preparing your landscape for winter dormancy creates a sense of order to the outdoors. While most of these jobs can be done over a few weekends, planning ahead can make for an easy transition into spring. Make it fun! Refresh the look of your home or even enhance your outdoor living space with a little effort and quality time spent outdoors this fall.