Fall Lawn and Garden Care
Drawn in by ivory pumpkins and soft green gourds decorating front porches everywhere, won over entirely with a pumpkin spice latte on a crisp morning – you’re not alone. Everyone’s clamoring for the newest, improved season, but the truth is: summer hasn’t yet left us. It’s during these last few weeks of summer and those that follow that our yard looks to us for restoration. It’s time for fall lawn and garden care. The incentive is harder to recognize, but come next spring, you’ll be glad to have done the legwork now and your landscape will thank you. Dig deep. End of summer and early fall is the optimal time for some of those projects we’ve neglected and procrastinated starting.
Patios, stone walls, walkways, decks – all require some excavation and it should be undertaken while the ground is still soft but also late enough in the season that minimal strain will be felt by grass and/or plantings. Make sure that you or the professional you hire can complete the project before the winter onset. For myself, I have a ten foot stone wall begging to be constructed. The roots of the neighboring tree have been exposed and in hopes of protecting it from future damage, we need to get them under ground, thus the wall. I’ve certainly procrastinated in this undertaking but I’d much rather be stacking stones and shoveling gravel in September temps anyway. I hope I’m not saying that next month about October temperatures.
Plant new grass and overseesd. I planted new grass in some patchy areas a couple weeks ago and was amazed at how healthy the grass grew in and with little heed on my part. I simply checked on it every couple days and watered at night. The cool evening temperatures were ideal for cultivation. Such is true of reseeding as well.
Trimming Trees can be expensive but the alternative can be more costly. Make sure to have dead branches removed before the snows set in, weighing them down. Rogue branches can cause damage to cars, houses, or people.
Re-Map Your Garden
Examine your plantings and determine which if any should be transplanted, either because they don’t fit into your aesthetic or because the plant itself isn’t thriving. Did the flower contort itself, straining to get more sunlight? Did it bloom all summer or were blooms few and far between? If the latter rings true, it doesn’t like its home and should be moved, to accommodate for sunlight and water. Though established plants are hardier than new, you are nonetheless disrupting their root systems, so make sure the excavated plant stays hydrated after replanting. Divide large plants, like hostas and lilies.
I move plants every fall as they grow too large for a space, crowd out other plants, or don’t perform well. That’s my own impulsivity and short-sightedness at work. I planted a Rosa Rugosa (beach rose) this past spring near my front walkway because I wanted to smell its perfumed fragrance every time I entered the house. It is now towering over the walkway and will likely consume it by next summer. Though it can be trimmed back, it has a tendency (apparently) to grow large and spread…into a colony. Sometimes the little bio the plant provides at purchase is not sufficient; this would have been helpful to know beforehand. So, I will move it to a more suitable location where it can colonize freely, without jeopardizing its neighbors.
Rose bushes are trimmed throughout the season to stimulate new growth. However, as we approach colder temperatures, be careful about stimulating new buds. New growth puts the plant at a disadvantage while it expends energy on that growth. An early frost will compromise that struggling rose bush. Hydrangeas will still offer blooms into fall and those older ones will begin to patina nicely. There are many different kinds of hydrangea and different pruning rules apply. Be careful should you decide to prune back a monster hydrangea that you don’t prune the new growth (the buds emerging for next spring). If you’re anxious about making the wrong choice, don’t prune it now. Watch it next spring and determine if the flowers grow on new growth or old wood. This will help determine your variety.
Those of us in colder weather climates recognize our time outside is precious and borrowed. We don’t want to spend it hacking up the lawn for that daunting patio project. It’s hard to muster the energy and motivation to tackle a project we don’t expect to enjoy until next spring. We teeter on the edge of our own undertaking as I write this. Still, if we can rise to it, we’ll get to step right into a healthy lawn next spring, a tidy and thriving garden, or a newly constructed stone walkway (that’s me) and be done with it. It seems we wait with bated breath for spring to arrive and then as it begins to unfurl, we run unhinged from one project to another trying to get the lawn, the house, the pool or what have you, prepped for summer. That’s just the home-care; if you have a life outside your house, it’s surely packed full of spring sporting events, graduations, weddings, work travel, more life. Do your self the favor of putting in the extra time now so you can reap the reward come May. I will wrestle my own dallying demon and let you know who comes out on top.
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