Fall Gardening Tips
by R Birch
Fall is a great time to be outdoors in the garden, the temperatures are perfect and the colors can be amazing. If you're looking for projects which will extend the gardening season and give you a reason to be outside, fear not, there's still plenty to do.
As the season moves along, perennials and annuals should be deadheaded, even right though the early fall months. Further along, towards late fall, these plants need to be cut back to the ground as they begin to die back. Though this can wait until spring, I like to do it in the late fall, there are too many other projects to worry about in the spring. Late fall is the ideal time to cut back your perennial garden as some perennials, though finished blooming, have great fall colors. Let them stand until the end of the season. Some, such as Balloon Flower and Astilbe turn beautiful shades of yellow and gold. Others retain their striking form and develop interesting seed heads, such as black- eyed Susan and Sedum "Autumn Joy".
As the annuals die or begin to look a bit spent, remove them and add them to your compost pile. There are a few fall blooming plants that you can replace them with . Aster and chrysanthemum are the most common. They can add vibrant color to your garden up until late
Avoid pruning shrubs too late into the season, this can often encourage new growth which may be susceptible to winter kill if it did not have time to harden off. After deciduous shrubs become dormant in the winter, pruning is fine for general shaping.
Examine your garden, are there any shrubs which are outgrowing their allotted space? Fall is a great time for transplanting shrubs. The cooler weather results in less stress for a newly transplanted shrub. There's generally more rain in the fall as well which also helps reduce stress. Plant new shrubs during the fall for the same reasons. Especially, since you may be able to find great deals during late season sales at your local nursery. Be sure to stake new trees and shrubs which may be vulnerable during winter snows.
Plant bulbs before the ground freezes, they're a great way to add early spring color to the garden. Bulbs are also a great way to naturalize your landscape. Daffodils, scilla, and bluebells are wonderful when planted beneath a large shade tree. Tulips and hyacinths are better suited for formal settings such as a perennial border.
After the ground is frozen, cover plants which require winter protection with hay or evergreen branches, especially in areas that are cold but have little snow. Perennials will benefit from winter protection.
Though things seem to be winding down as the winter approaches, a quick walk through the garden will reveal a number of projects still to be done.