Preparing your garden for fall
Preparing the garden for fall. Ahhh, fall! With the changing colors, the bright, sunny days, and the cool, crisp nights, autumn is the perfect time to work in the garden. After a hot summer, the still-warm soil protects the root systems of new plantings, helps divided perennials survive the cut, and grows some vegetable varieties quickly. Keep the gardening gloves on and the shovel in hand.
Here: three ways to keep gardening right through autumn.
Preparation for next year.
Think spring! Cold-tolerant flower bulbs are built to withstand the winter frost and cold and are a welcome sight as the snow melts. Do the hard work now and thank yourself later when the gloomy days of winter make way for sprouting green plants. Great candidates for fall bulb planting are tulips, daffodil, hyacinth, and iris. Looking for something a little bit different? Allium, a member of the onion family, is an absolute show-stopper with its tall stalk and purple puff. Plan to plant new bulbs when nighttime temperatures are holding steady between 40 and 50 degrees, and well before the ground is frozen. A fantastic reward of blooms will await you in the spring – next year and for years to come.
Fall Beauty & Blooms
Add some simple perennials to your flower garden this fall to enjoy their brilliant color now and again every fall. While these recommended varieties wait to show their stuff until September and October, their green foliage all summer long adds a lushness to any garden space. Ideal candidates for fall additions include:
Hardy Mums. Found in an entire rainbow of colors, there’s nothing that says fall more than a mum. Choose these frost-hardy blooms as a temporary splash of color in a planter on the porch, or as a permanent addition to your perennial bed. Your best bet for mums to survive through the winter’s cold? Plant them right away, keep them well-watered, and mulched to protect their roots.
Autumn Joy. The name says it all. This member of the sedum family grows beautifully all summer long and turns a stunning pink-red in the fall. The thick, succulent-like, light green foliage will be a welcome point of interest in your perennial garden year-round.
Turtlehead plants. These perennials are a perfect choice for a tall, green border in your garden bed. With large, green leaves all summer long, turtleheads are a well-behaved garden addition. They’ll spread slowly, but are easily tamed. Once the cooler temperatures hit, a small, pink flower grouping pops out – much like real turtle heads!
Chinese Lantern. Is there anything more stunning than these gorgeous pods of orange? While this perennial quickly spreads through the garden, it’s so beautiful that you not mind. Cut stalks of it for dried arrangements inside your home.
Chinese Bellflower. Similar to the beautiful Chinese Lantern pods, the “balloon flower,” as it’s more commonly known, grows a big, puffy, balloon-like purple pod until it pops open into a gorgeous flower when fall hits.
Heliopsis. These sweet yellow flowers, reminiscent of a tiny sunflower or a tall black-eyed Susan, will bloom throughout summer and well into fall. They’re the perfect bit of sunshine for those wishing summer might never end – yet are a color that blends perfectly into fall.
Fall Vegetable Bounty
After getting through all the zucchini (how do we always end up with SO. MUCH. ZUCCHINI.?), fall’s vegetables are a welcome respite. The bright sun, yet cooler temperatures are perfect for a variety of nutrient-rich veggies. Here are the best ideas for planting in late summer: all varieties of kale, sweetheart lettuce (a baby cabbage), spinach, Swiss chard, and herbs like rosemary or parsley. Remember all of your favorite early spring greens? Give them another go-round in the fall. The cool weather and bright sun mimic spring’s growing season.
Preparing garden for fall
While you’re working on your fall vegetable garden, think ahead to next year. Plant broccoli, cauliflower Brussels sprouts, and (of course) pumpkins earlier in the summer, and they’ll be ready to harvest in the fall. You might even want to try a small patch of ornamental gourds just for fun!
Have some extra acreage? Apple trees are the perfect fit. Their beautiful blossoms will be a treat in the spring, their leaves provide shade in the summer, and fall will bring all the apple pie you can possibly eat.
Just because the long, lazy days of summer are coming to a close, doesn’t mean that your garden needs to shut down, too. With all of the fun planting, don’t neglect your other gardening chores. Clean up perennial beds and cut back summer flowers and bushes. Fall is ideal for lots of hard work in the garden – and the payoff is worth every minute spent. What are your favorite fall garden additions?
Craig is the editor at Everything Backyard and loves to spend all the time he can outdoors and find every excuse to leave his house. He writes about everything from backyard DIY projects to gardening. If you can’t get a hold of him, he is probably on a trail or a boat.