When summer ends, plants head toward dormancy but in other ways the garden is just starting up again. Fall offers plenty of excellent opportunities to improve your garden's health and appearance. Plus, it's so much more pleasant to work in this season than in summer's heat or spring's mud. Here is your gardening plan to make the most of fall:
1. Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll settle in easily during fall’s cooler days and nights, and the season’s more regular rainfall will mean less hand watering by you. As for timing, generally aim to finish planting six weeks before your usual last frost.
2. Take advantage of sales. Garden centers and nurseries often offer great deals on trees, shrubs and perennials in autumn so that they don’t have to carry them through the winter.
3. Buy fewer plants, but get more. Look for spring- and summer-blooming perennials and groundcovers that are overspilling their pots. When you plant them, you can divide them into several smaller plants, getting more bang for your buck.
4. Sow seeds of annuals, biennials and perennials. Prepare the soil as you would if you were spring sowing. In cold-winter areas, sow the seeds after a killing frost. In warm-winter areas, wait until just before the rainy season begins. Seeds likely won’t sprout until spring; if you see seedlings sooner in a cold-winter region, mulch them for protection.
5. Harvest leaves. As the leaves of deciduous trees fall, go over them with a mulching mower; they’ll feed your lawn as they decompose. You can also rake, chop or mow additional leaves (there are always plenty!), and use them as a nutrient-rich topdressing for your beds and borders.
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