Fall is here, and the wearier among us dream of retiring from the garden, hanging up our trowels and putting well-worn garden gloves away. Alas, our jobs are far from done. There are still tidying, planting and weeding tasks at hand, to keep lawns and gardens healthy and tuck them in snugly for winter’s rest and rebirth. We’ve asked local garden and landscape professionals to weigh in on their early fall gardening agendas.
ASHBY PERROW OF SOUTHERN LANDSCAPE GROUP: “As the temperatures begin to cool, you can start to put your fall planting/transplanting plan into play. It’s a great time to divide any perennials that are getting a bit too large. Prep your beds for winter time by re-edging, removing spent perennial growth and adding a fresh layer of mulch. Add some fall color! Plant some seasonal favorites like pansies and ornamental cabbages and kale.”
CLC suggests aera-vating and overseeding, fall fertilizing, and planting— especially mums and pansies.
PHILIP HELBLING OF VIRGINIA GARDEN SUPPLY suggests overseeding and fertilizing the lawn. “You should clean up any dead blooms and debris from spring and summer to prevent potential fungus from starting in the coming spring. As for pruning, now is the time for light pruning of Japanese hollies. (Chinese hollies wait till late winter so you can enjoy the berries.) Newer varieties of hydrangeas can be pruned in the winter, i.e., Limelights and Endless Summer varieties. Older varieties of hydrangea that bloom on old wood—Nikko Blue, for example—should be pruned after blooms are spent in late summer. This is also a great time to remove any dead or damaged branches caused from the season before.”
ADAM PUTNEY OF ACP LANDSCAPING AND LAWNCARE agrees that aera-vating and seeding in September will improve the quality and thickness of the turf.
MASTER GARDENER PATSY HEALD says fall is a great time to plant shrubs and trees. “It’s also the right time for reseeding the lawn and planting flowering annuals that will bloom in the spring, like larkspur and poppy seed. Cold weather crops, particularly vegetables like spinach and lettuce can be planted in September as well.”
JONATHAN SLEDGE, ABOVE GROUND TREE AND LANDSCAPE offers great advice: “Overseeding the lawn is best to do in mid-September, when it’s warm enough to get the seed started and growing but early enough that fallen leaves won’t inhibit seed growth. Watering every day for 21 days is very helpful to get seeds germinated. Also, keep leaves blown off the lawn so you don’t block sunlight on newly sprouted grass. Fall seeding gives lawns a chance to continue growing roots through winter, ready to withstand summer drought and heat. Planning for fall means planting trees and shrubs so they are ready for next summer. Spring planted trees typically struggle more during Virginia summers. It’s best to consult a certified Arborist to see what trees best fit your landscape. Finally, tree roots put out lots of new growth in the fall. It is a perfect time for a special blend of fertilizer to help boost the soil, with plenty of beneficial organics to invigorate the root system, particularly your older trees. If you take care of the roots it will take care of the shoots. Assessing trees in the late fall is best done in September when they may have been stressed from insect, disease and drought.