The end of the summer is here and the kids are back in school. With fall just around the corner, take advantage of the weeks ahead to plan your end of season upkeep routine, before the *gasp* holiday madness begins.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your yard work maintenance.
- Cutting Back to Save Perennials: No one can predict exactly when the first frost will appear, so plan to cut back perennials within the next few weeks. The vast majority of late spring perennials start to look really tired come fall. Look around your yard, and
when the leaves start to die back (after they are done absorbing a stockpile of energy) cut the stalks back to a few inches above the ground. If you are able to, compost the cuttings.
- Store Roots for the Winter: Despite the fanciful flowers rhizomes help produce, these horizontal growth-stems (which store food for the plant) are downright ugly. While not all plants that have rhizomes require digging up, (ferns, lily of the valley) some do require winter storage and division in order to stay healthy and keep delivering. (canna, bearded iris). Depending on how many you have in your garden digging up, dividing,and preparing rhizomes for winter storage can be an all-day event. Research the methods for storage that are based on your zone and available resources.
- When Planting Bulbs, Timing Is Everything: If you are adding new plants to your garden, you’ll want to get bulbs in a few weeks before the ground freezes. This allows their root systems time to establish themselves before the winter sets in. However, if you plant these too early and they could start to sprout. By all means, consult zone tables for bulb planting; but use common sense as well. Unseasonably cold or warm weather can throw the dates off by weeks.
- Make Way for Potted Plants: Many homeowners enjoy taking their tropical plants outside into the yard in the warmer months, then back indoors for winter enjoyment. These container plants make ideal homes for ants, gnats and other small creatures. Flush the soil well and replace the mulch to avoid bringing them inside. Don’t forget to check under the leaves for mites or other small insects. Place plants in optimal lighting conditions and consider replacing nearby lamp bulbs with grow lights.
- Fallen Leaves Can’t Stay: When leaves get wet, they form a slick blanket and prevent the sun from reaching the grass and soil, therefore, robbing your lawn of the energy it needs to survive throughout the winter. This also traps in moisture, making it a breeding ground for fungus that will leave you an unsightly, brown patchy lawn come spring. Look into earth-friendly options that don’t include bagging, such as: mowing, mulching or composting.
Now is the time to stay the course, and next year, your garden will reward you with a vibrant and healthy lawn and flower blooms that excite the senses all season long.