This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year, especially when I lived in California and the summers were so oppressive. While August can feel like the doldrums, September is full of all sorts of gardening activities. Here are some highlights for the month…
Fall is an excellent time to plant. Shrubs, trees, and perennials, when planted now, will take off and go nuts come spring. Remember, our soils are very dry so be sure to pre-soak the planting hole before you plant. Don’t forget to add some compost and starter fertilizer, it’s cheap insurance.
LAWNS: This is THE month to plant a new lawn or resurrect an existing one. Aerate, de-thatch, reseed or start all over, but get it done this month. If you are unsure as to how to proceed, consider coming to our Lawn Care Class on the 16th of this month. One hour in this class could make you the envy of the neighborhood.
ROSES: Fertilize and prune this month, if you want to coax one more flush of blooms out of your darlings. Watch for mildew. I like to hose off the roses first thing in the morning to help avoid mildew. Keep the ground around roses clean as well. For extra protection, apply a fungicide that is either natural or synthetic.
PERENNIALS: Like I mentioned last week, you will find lots of late blooming perennials in stock in garden centers and it’s a great time to plug up a few holes in the garden. This is also the ideal time to dig and divide large clumps of perennials, like day lilies and irises. Share the extras with a neighbor. Always add some fertilizer and compost when you are planting (I know, I sound like a broken record). Liquinox Start (it’s as old as I am), is also helpful during transplant time and again, it is cheap insurance!
BULBS: This is the month that spring blooming bulbs arrive at the garden center. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and many other minor perennial bulbs are all available to plant now. Shop early for the best selection, and if you need more guidance and direction consider coming to our “Designing with Bulbs” class on October 14th.
VEGGIES: Check out my recent column "Planting a Fall Veggie Garden." Be sure to replenish the soil with compost and organic fertilizer (there’s that broken record again) before you plant.
CONTAINERS: While summer containers can still look pretty darn good (assuming you have taken good care of them), it’s not too early to change them out into something that will last through the winter. There is a huge pallet of plant material that is appropriate for late summer planting into containers. Herbs, grasses, evergreen perennials, and small conifers are all finding their way into beautiful winter containers.
Think of using foliage and texture rather than just flowers, and don’t forget to stuff a few bulbs underneath the plants while you are at it. Containers planted in September will look fabulous all the way into April or May.
Landscaping: Like I said in the beginning, fall is for planting, so get your hardscaping done and get those plants in the ground before Old Man Winter arrives. You will see a huge growth spurt come spring and be miles ahead of waiting until March or April to plant.
Fall is for planting, don’t miss it!
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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