Fall really IS for gardening, planting bulbs, dividing and moving perennials…
September is the start of a new gardening season, the fall season. The people with the nicest yards and gardens are out working in them during the fall gardening season (September, October and November). Fall is a perfect time for planting because the soil is nice and warm, the air temperature starts to cool and we generally get sufficient natural rainfall. This makes the fall season a perfect time for establishing a lawn, trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants put more energy into establishment and roots than top growth making it the perfect time to establish new plants in the landscape. Labor Day weekend is a traditional kick off to the fall gardening season, a perfect time for yard projects. Not only do plants like the great weather in September and October, people do too!
Spring flowering bulbs arrive in early September. When planting tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowering bulbs, don’t make the mistake of planting them too shallow. You’ll get better results when they are planted at least 3 to 4 times the bulbs height in the soil. Make sure to work in some bulb starter fertilizer when planting. Also consider using some screening materials like chicken wire in the soil to protect the bulbs deterring rodents from digging them up for a tasty snack.
Plant some annuals for “cool season” color. Annuals like snapdragons and ornamental kale will look great well into November. Annuals like pansies will give you color now and then hibernate under the snow to re-appear next spring for a second season of color!
Perennials can be moved and divided in September, allowing them time to establish roots in their new soil home before the ground freezes for winter. Make sure the roots do not “heave” above the soil line, which will damage or kill them in winter. A light layer of mulch helps stabilize soil temperatures.
Fall is the perfect time for weed control, especially in the lawn (see weed control comments in the month of October).
Get tropicals and houseplants ready for the move indoors before the first frost. Our first frost in West Michigan is usually around October 10. Make sure to clean the plants and get them bug free. Move them to a lower light area outdoors to begin “hardening” them off for the move indoors. Re-pot into sterilized soil and consider incorporating systemic insect control soil granules. Some tropicals may need to be pruned back for the move indoors. Do some window cleaning while the weather is nice so there is good light penetration for the plants when they do make the move indoors.
Just like lawns, fall is a good time for establishment of groundcovers.
Mums, Asters and Ornamental grasses can add some instant color to the yard.
One of the most important times to feed the lawn all year is the fall season. Apply step 4 during the month of September and consider the purchase of a 5th step to apply in early November.
Consider core-aerating lawns that are compacted. September is a good month to aerate turf to rejuvenate them in addition to fall feeding.
A good month to get on top of your moss problem. Use a moss control product and aerate the soil. Grass has roots and moss does not. The presence of moss often indicates the soil is compacted.