Fall is for planting

The fall equinox isn’t until Sept. 22, but I think it’s worth a reminder now because I love to get people busy planting trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens, grass and more when autumn officially begins.

Late September through November is the optimum time to work on landscapes, and that’s why I’m bringing it up here at the end of August. Plus, after the past week’s tropical nonsense, I’m thinking that once we come up for air and get back to normal weather, we’ll just be a week or so away from getting to work.

In fact, when I gave the go-ahead signal last year around Oct. 1, it was pointed out that most of the area’s best landscapers were already booked. So, if you want to hire any of this out, contact your landscaper today.

I consider October to be the best month to incorporate cole crops in fall and winter vegetable gardens. This is also the best time for buying and planting bulbs. And it’s when we do lawn winterization or fall fertilization and the time to put out pre-emergent herbicides to block weed seeds, especially those of clover and poa aunna. None of those rules have changed, despite Hanna’s visit.

For me, landscape renewals or re-dos are more than just replacing lost shrubs. It’s also the time to plant trees, so their root systems can get established before our first cold spell. In fact, that goes for any type of landscape work – all roots need to get established well before the first freeze.

This is also the perfect time to change out the color of your landscape. It’s time to rip out the vincas and put in some pentas or marigolds or petunias or allysum or … well, get to a garden center soon to see all the fall and winter annuals and perennials in stock. If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention pansies, my official planting date for those is Oct. 30. It has to be a bit cooler before they go in. I apply the same rule to cyclamen, the shade-loving winter color.

This is also the last time this year to prune a whole bunch of stuff, especially evergreens. In fact, we can prune nearly anything and not touch it again until April or May. And once low temperatures dip down below 60 degrees, the window opens on our major tree-pruning season.

And finally, Sept. 22 through Nov. 30 is a great time for re-sodding lawns. Get those grass roots established soon, and you’ll be rewarded in early spring with a faster green-up and fill-in. Just be aware that re-sodding now will not result in a beautiful, full lawn - you will likely notice seams around the newly laid grass for months.

Right now, you’ll probably find the year’s best prices on solid sod, and solid sod is what you need. There is no such thing as St. Augustine seed, and this is the worst time of year to put out Bermuda seed. If you can’t afford solid sod, and you’re in desperate need of some kind of erosion control over the next four months, rye grass seed is a bona fide option. But remember, you’ve got to remove all the dead grass first, so the rye seed can make contact with the soil. Just sowing rye over the dead stuff will result in hit-and-miss germination. If you’re going to do it, do it right!

If you have any other questions about what can and can’t be done over the next three months, just give me a call on the GardenLine radio program this weekend. I’ve always been a proponent of handling each lawn and landscape situation on a case-by-case basis.


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