Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. The weather is cooler, the corn is fresh and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But with the kids back at school and after-school activities in full swing, many of us forget about the garden.
The fall is a fantastic time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Although the air temperature is cooler, the soil is still quite warm, which allows plant roots to grow well until
the ground freezes. Tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring-blooming bulbs should also be planted now.
They need the cold temperatures of winter in order to produce blooms in the spring.
Don’t forget to water
Although the heat of summer is over, plants still require regular watering. For the first six weeks after placing them in the ground, new plantings should be watered daily. Established plants require about 1 to 1½ inches of water per week.
If you have trouble with weeds, apply one last shot of weed killer when the temperature is higher than 65 degrees and it should remain warm for a few days. An application of Ironite to your trees, shrubs and lawn will help plants develop a stronger root system. But don’t fertilize after Oct. 31.
We often think of mulch as the final item we add to garden beds in the springtime to give them a finished look. But in the autumn, mulch leaves with your lawn mower and place them in your compost pile or around your roses for winter protection.
Before the leaves fall, place a net over your pond to keep leaves and critters out. Now is also the perfect time to make sure your pond heater is working, so it will be ready when you need to use it.
A good fall clean-up will ensure an easier start in spring. Take advantage of the cool temperatures by raking leaves and removing spent summer annuals, vegetable plants and other debris. Don’t overlook your garden tools: Clean your rakes, shovels and other garden equipment before you close the shed for the winter.
Be sure to move that snow shovel to the front of the garage, so it’s within easy reach once winter comes.
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying the outdoors. Fall is a magical time of year. Plant mums, pansies, cabbage, kale and grasses to make your patio, walkways and garden feel inviting. Read a book on the patio during sunny fall afternoons or add a fire pit to extend the season for s’mores. The possibilities are endless.
Karen Musgrave is a Certified Nursery Landscape Professional (CNLP) and a marketing and education specialist at Hicks Nurseries, Inc., 100 Jericho Tpke. in Westbury. For more information, visit www.hicksnurseries.com or call 516-334-0066.