It’s a great month to tackle fall yard projects. Some effort this fall will set up your landscape for success and beauty next season and will shorten the to-do list next spring.
Cut back perennial flowers: Once the foliage is brown, perennials can be cut to the ground. Consider leaving some sturdy perennials standing in place for late fall and winter interest. Sedums, coneflower, Russian sage and ornamental grasses can be left standing and look beautiful with a dusting of snow or frost. Cutting back other perennials flowers will save you the task next spring.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs: Wake up your garden next spring with colorful daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and tulips. Spring-blooming bulbs add the color you’ll be craving after winter and provide an early season food source for pollinating insects. Plant bulbs any time in October and enjoy pops of color for years to come.
Plant garlic: Hardy and full-flavored, homegrown garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow. Begin by preparing the soil. It should be about 12 inches deep and amended with compost. Choose garlic varieties meant for planting, not the grocery-store kind. We have a great selection of cold-hardy, gourmet garlic. Separate garlic into cloves. Plant each clove pointy side up about 4 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. One head of garlic will typically yield 8-10 heads next year. Water thoroughly. The garlic will sprout next spring and be ready to harvest late summer.
Water: A cold dry fall can be deadly for many ornamental plants. Well-hydrated roots increase a plants’ chance of survival before our seasonal blanket of snow. Water lawns, trees, shrubs and flower beds every week or two (depending on the weather) until the snow stays on the ground. Fall watering is especially important for evergreen trees.
Protect Trees and Shrubs:
Evergreens like spruce, pine and juniper lose moisture as their needles transpire through the winter. New evergreens are not able to keep up with the rate of moisture loss because their root systems are not yet deep enough. An anti-desiccant like Wilt Pruf™ can be sprayed on evergreen needles mid to late October. Wilt Pruf™ helps slow down transpiration and can make the difference between brown, crispy needles or lush green needles next spring.
Protect trees and shrubs from browsing deer, moose or gnawing rodents with Plantskydd™ liquid or granular repellent. In cases with frequent large game browsing, seasonal fencing may be needed.
Voles can girdle and kill a tree overwinter by chewing the bark around the base of the trunk. Apples and crabapples are especially vulnerable. A rigid plastic trunk guard can be placed around the trunk to protect it. Remove the trunk guard the following spring to allow for airflow.
Mulch is useful to moderate soil temperatures, retain moisture and suppress weeds. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of trees and shrubs, being careful not to pile it up right against the trunk.
Some deciduous trees like maples are prone to cracking over winter. Cracking is caused when the trunk heats up in the sun during the day and then cools off dramatically at night. The temperature difference causes vertical, spiraling cracks down the trunk. A lightweight tree wrap will help protect the trunk. Wrap trunks late fall and remove the wrap in the spring.
Spread wildflower and grass seed: Fall is one of the best times for seeding. Wildflower and grass seed will lay dormant until spring and germinate once the soil temperatures warm up. As a bonus, residual moisture from snowmelt and spring rains speed up germination.
Replenish veggie beds: Now great time to feed the soil in your veggie garden. After harvesting and cleaning up plant debris, spread a 2-4 inch layer of compost (we like Happy Frog or Black Gold brands) over top and work it into the top 6 inches or so with a spade or digging fork. Rake smooth and your beds will be ready to rock next season.
Note: Do this when the soil is dry to avoid a clumpy, muddy mess and to keep the soil from becoming compact.
Fertilize and protect your lawn: A late application of fall lawn fertilizer (or winterizer) will give your lawn a boost next spring with a quick green-up and healthy new growth. Fall fertilizer has the addition of potassium for strong root development and overall health. To minimize vole damage, spread a repellant like Molemax™ or Reppelex™ over lawns.
Take advantage of fall sale pricing: Espoma™ organic fall lawn food is now 50%off.