Late August through Early October is a perfect time to get things done in your garden. The summer flowers have passed and the conditions are just right for refreshing your landscape and getting a head-start on spring. Cooler air and ample rain help to stimulate a period of rapid root growth, making fall a perfect time plant new trees, shrubs and cold tolerant annuals. Here are some tips on what you can do right now to dress up your yard and get a jump on spring.
Many diseases can overwinter in the stems of perennials and the fallen leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs. To prevent your plants from becoming re-infected in the spring it is important to rake up leaves and cut down any diseased stems of perennials.
Winter survival of woody plants depends largely on the moisture of the soil in the fall. Water needs to be applied to ensure that woody plants have taken up sufficient amounts of moisture to prevent stress related to desiccation, that is, plant water loss in winter. When soils are dry in late summer and early fall, water should be applied once per week or so, depending upon soil moisture levels, through October. Click here for some tips for watering
It is widely assumed that fertilizing in the fall will promote late season growth that is prone to winter damage. However, recent studies have shown that the nutrients that support spring growth in woody plants are those that were taken up in the previous year and stored over winter.
Fall is a great time to apply mulch to garden beds. By adding a 3-4 inch layer of mulch will buffer plants' root systems from fluctuating temperatures and moisture levels throughout the fall and winter. Additionally it will help suppress weed growth.
Fall is the best time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs because after the leaves have fallen it's much easier to see which limbs need pruning and how it will affect the overall shape of the plant. Another reason to prune in the fall is that insects and diseases are far less prevalent this time of year.
Planting trees and shrubs in the fall gives them a chance to start spreading some roots in the cool moist soil. The cooler soil and air temperatures along with the increased rainfall also take away much of the shock that plants incur during the planting process