Now that Halloween is gone and we changed the clocks back last weekend, it makes me sad to think that those wonderful warm days of summer are truly over and most of the leaves seem to be on the ground. So I thought I would give you a few tips for fall gardening because it doesn’t mean that gardening season is over just yet.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts:
- DO rake and remove leaves from your lawn every week; grass needs sunlight in fall for strong growth in spring.
- DON’T cut back perennials too early, leave some standing through winter, as seed heads and colored foliage can be beautiful and the seeds feed migrating birds.
- DO continue to water if the weather is dry, perennials and wood types, especially newly planted ones and evergreens, including broadleaf types such as euonymus-need moisture to survive winter.
- DON”T leave flower beds bare – mulch with fallen leaves. If possible shred leaves with the lawn mower, running it over a few times.
- DO use winter mulch to help soil maintain a more even temperature. This helps plants survive where alternating periods of freezing and thawing don’t provide consistent snow cover. Lay cut up boughs from Christmas trees on beds to trap snow that otherwise might blow away.
- DO cut back peony, iris, and hosta foliage which can harbor pests and disease.
- DON’T cut back those beautiful ornamental grasses as they still look lovely with snow shimmering on them and blowing in the wind all winter.
- DO protect young evergreens, Japanese Maples and Rhododendrons against drying winter winds and sunscald with a burlap screen placed about a meter away.
- DO store those tender summer bulbs like dahlias, cannas, gladiolas, and calla lilies in a cool dry dark place. This allows the bulb to rest before being replanted next spring. Usually after the first frost dig up the roots, being careful not to cut through the bulb.
Remove the excess soil, if you can leave them out in the sun to dry off (but not dry out) this makes the soil brittle and easier to clean off from the bulbs. Find a wood or cardboard box and line it with peat moss, sand or sawdust, plastic containers can cause mold due to moisture forming. Lay bulbs in lined container in a single row and label them, do not double stack rows or mix plant types, otherwise you won’t remember which bulb is which next spring. Store open container in cool dark place, away from radiators or damp areas.
Bird feeders are always a welcome addition to the garden although the Robin can be happy on even one serviceberry. Goldfinches love Thistle and Echinacea and spiky dead flower heads provide seeds for all the birds. Squirrels will be happy to make a winter snack out of dried morning glory seeds.
In the upcoming blogs for winter we will talk about potted paper whites and amaryllis. How to create a winter urn with evergreen boughs, pinecones and berried branches, and homemade bird feeders.
Enjoy these milder days in your garden to get all these little tasks done, before the snow is upon us.