The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are a bit cooler and there is a definite nip in the air when the sun sets. That all means one thing: autumn is approaching and its time to give our gardens a fresh look for the season.
Heat, drought and the end of the summer season has many annuals and tender perennials looking a bit tattered and worn. It may be time to remove spent annuals from the garden, but there is no need to leave vacant spots:
• Swap out warm-season annuals with cool-loving pansies and ornamental cabbages and kales.
• In cold-winter areas, protect your pansies or violas with pine boughs when the temperatures drop and they begin to fade; they may survive the winter to return in the spring for an early flush of blooms.
• When the ground nears freezing, plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips in the vacant spots left by discarded annuals.
• Autumn is a great time to plant perennial ornamental grasses. The browns, golds and rust colors of many perennial grasses are perfect for the season, and come spring you will be ahead of the game for planting.
• Pot up tender perennials or annuals you want to save. On warm days, tuck the planted pots into the garden to fill empty spots and on cooler nights, stash them in the garage for protection. Once winter comes, bring the perennials indoors for overwintering.
• Pumpkins, gourds and decorative corn are wonderful, traditional autumn additions to the garden. Fair warning: They may attract hungry squirrels and deer, so add them knowing they may be a feast for your garden critters one day.
• Plan ahead: Before it gets too cold, scout out trees and shrubs from which you can take cuttings for winter container gardens and home decorating.