Fall officially arrived on September 22, although most people were probably still enjoying a garden harvest and beautiful flowers. Many of us don't think about fall until the temperatures start to ease off and the leaves change color. Both of these are signs that winter is on its way.
However, it is often too late to take care of important fall garden tasks if we wait for cold weather to be upon us. By this time, winter is right around the corner, and we may miss our window of opportunity to dabble in our garden before frost and snow.
I love preparing my garden for spring in the fall. The few things I need to do don't take long and the weather is so gorgeous. It is the perfect time of the year to get outside and play in the dirt!
There are many things that you can do in the fall to ensure that your garden will be beautiful come spring. Here are just five fall garden tasks that you should consider:
There is nothing more welcoming after a long winter than a rainbow of spring bulbs poking out from the cool earth. Bulbs are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to beautify your landscape.
So, if you are like many others, you may be confused about the best time to plant bulbs. Here is a general guide that should help:
Northeast and Rocky Mountains: Bulbs can be planted from September until the ground freezes.
Midwest, Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic Coast, and the Plains States: Bulbs are best planted from September 30 through the end of November.
Pacific Northwest Coast: Get your bulbs in the ground between October and December 1.
The South: Best time to plant is between October and mid-December.
The Gulf Coast: For beautiful spring bulbs plant between October and the end of December.
California Coast: Best time to get bulbs in the ground is mid-October through January.
When it comes to what kinds of bulbs to plant, there are many to choose from. Of course, tulips are the quintessential spring bulb and require a long period of cold to look their best. You can find tulips in all colors of the rainbow. Other bulbs to consider include the early rising crocus that loves to be the first up in the spring, grape hyacinths that have a beautiful aroma, daffodils, bearded iris, Asiatic lily, summer snowflake and scilla, another early bloomer.
Note: Each of these bulbs require different conditions, so be sure to read labels before planting for best results.
A beautiful spring garden requires that you do a good job cleaning up in the fall. Raking leaves, cutting off dead buds, pruning and dividing perennials, etc. can all be done in the fall to help encourage new growth and vibrancy. Be sure to get outside while the weather is warmish to clean up your flower beds.
Many perennials, shrubs, and trees will benefit from a light layer of fresh mulch before winter -- especially if you have tender perennials that are sensitive to the cold. Choose from any number of mulch types including cedar, cypress or hardwood. You can even use pine needles. Organic mulch will decompose slowly, adding nutrients to your garden and also providing protection against harsh winter winds and cold temperatures.
When you visit your local garden shop near the end of the season, you many be happy to find big discounts on many of your favorite plants. Although the plants have finished blooming and may look a little stressed, fall is the perfect time to plant perennials. Once you trim them and get them in the ground, place mulch on and around the plants and keep them moist until frost. You will be amazed at how beautiful they will look come spring. If you have slopes or areas prone to washout, use a layer of pebbles on top of the mulch.
Plant Fruit Trees
Fall is the best time of the year to plant fruit trees. Many fruit trees, especially dwarf varieties, add height and interest to a garden. Some trees to consider are apple, plum, cherry, apricot, peach and fig. Check with your local planting guide to find the best variety of fruit trees for your region. Be sure to stake small trees to protect them from winter winds.
Take these five tips into consideration this fall, and you can be sure that your spring garden will come alive with vibrancy.