Thinking ahead: Embracing fall in the garden and landscape

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Updated Aug 1, 2023

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With the upcoming arrival of fall next month comes a change in the weather on the horizon, a change in apparel, and a change in the landscape. Many of your customers may not realize that even though the peak of growing and blooming season has passed, there are still multitudes of fall design and growing options they can explore.

Just because summer and spring are gone doesn’t mean that the yard has to go to the pits, so talk to your customers about a few fall tree, grass, bulb, vegetable and design options that are sure to make their yard the envy of the neighborhood.

Best time to plant trees

For customers who desire autumn trees in their yard, mid-August through September is a great time to plant spruce, pine and other evergreens. If evergreens are planted in late October or November, they may not have adequate time to become established before winter sets in, and this can cause the trees to sustain injuries or die. For deciduous trees, planting should take place between August and November.

Newly planted trees should receive a daily watering for three to four days after installation. After this, gradually reduce the watering frequency. Slowly apply water to the root ball and surrounding soil. During dry weather, a thorough watering every seven to 10 days should suffice three to four weeks after planting.

Best time to sow grass seed

The best time to seed new lawns or overseed existing lawns is during mid-August to mid-September. Researchers at Iowa State University say that there are many advantages to late-summer seeding over spring seeding, such as the fact that cool-season grass seeds will germinate quickly in the warm soil of late summer.

Rapid turfgrass growth is also encouraged during the warm days and cool nights of early fall, and the growing grass will have less competition from weeds, since fewer weeds germinate in the fall.

Best time to plant spring-flowering bulbs

For spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, the best time to plant is in October. When planting the bulbs, be sure to plant them in clusters or groups to achieve maximum visual impact. When bulbs are planted individually or in single rows, it’s usually not as effective.

If the ground is not yet frozen in December, it is still possible to plant spring-flowering bulbs that late in the season.

Vegetable gardens

It’s been said that one of the best parts of having a fall vegetable garden is the fact that fewer pests are present in the fall. This allows your customers to have the garden they’ve been craving without having to deal with creepy crawlies all season.

Be sure to prep the soil before starting the garden. Adding compost to the soil beforehand can help create good soil health, since compost is full of microbial life that can help protect young seedlings and minimize plant stress.

Be sure to avoid over-fertilizing the soil, as too much nitrogen can be unhealthy for blooming veggies. Plants such as sunflowers, basil, zinnia, dill, cosmos and fennel are good autumn options, and basil is long-lasting, can re-seed itself and attracts pollinators such as bees and more.

To get a good fall crop of lettuce and spinach, plant in mid-August. Other options like radishes can be planted from mid-August to mid-September.

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