Cooler weather has finally arrived and fall is in the air. Here in Pennsylvania, fall is a wonderful time. It’s probably my favorite season. The temperatures are moderate during the day and the cool nights make for wonderful sleeping weather.
Now I hate to rush the seasons – the fact that Christmas decorations are already starting to appear in stores drives me crazy. But….
Fall is also a great time to prepare for spring! You see there are so many things going on in the garden in the spring, that there is almost too much to get done. And while spring is a really inspiring time to start new things in the garden, fall is actually a better time for certain garden tasks.
If you are still looking to enjoy working in your garden, but aren’t sure where to start (especially if you live in a climate where colder temperatures are fast approaching) here are 5 Fall Projects that you can do in the fall to make spring gardening season a lot easier. And a few of these are actually best done in the fall rather than the spring.
1. Create a New Garden Bed: Fall is a great time to prepare an area for a new bed. Check out my previous blog post on exactly how to do this: Creating a New Garden Bed - The Easy Way. Prepping the bed now allows the nutrients you add to really get into the soil. And in the spring, the bed will be ready for you to do the fun, creative part of this process – planting your plants.
2. Plant New Shrubs and Perennials: The "Fall is for Planting" signs you see around garden centers are not just part of a marketing ploy so that shops can get more sales before winter hits. Fall truly is the best time to plant new trees, shrubs and perennials. Why? Because in the spring the plants are putting their energy into producing more foliage, flowers, and seeds. In the fall, as the plants hunker down for winter, all of the energy goes into the roots. By planting in the fall, you give the plants their best chance to get established. So get creative, pickup those plants you’ve been meaning to plant and just did not get the chance to in the spring. Talk to your local nurseryman about the best soil amendments for your choices and be sure to keep the newly planted plants well-watered. And, of course, check out any plant sales or auctions where you can pick plants up for less money as vendors reduce their stock!
3. Divide Perennials: One of my favorite things about perennials is that many of them ‘make more’. Dig them up, divide them at the root ball and either add them to other areas of your yard or share them with friends! Fall is great time to do this for the same reason as planting new plants – it gives the perennials time to establish their root systems before needing to put more energy into foliage and flower growth. Check on-line to see which of your perennials will benefit from division and how to divide each one. If you’ve been wanting to add more plants to an existing bed, this is a great way to do it.
4. Plant Bulbs for Early Spring Color: This is on task that isn’t just a good idea to do now. Spring flowering bulbs need to be planted in the fall in order to be ready to show off their colors in the spring. Like all other plants, some bulbs do better in shade and some do better in spring. Be sure to check out each one’s requirements and pick the right ones for the right spot. Also, it’s important to check each bulb’s soil depth requirements and be sure to follow them. Bulbs give the most impact when planted en mass. If you’ve never planted them before, pick a small area in your garden and then visit your local garden center and ask for help in picking out a variety that should work well for your site. Then buy 10-12 bulbs and plant them in a grouping and see how you like the effect.
5. Install a Soaker Hose: Watering can be a real chore in the summer, especially if you have a newly planted area. One of the best ways to save time and save water is to install a soaker hose in new beds and around new plantings. Check out my previous post on how to do this here: Spending Too Much Time Watering. A few years back, I had a professional landscaping company do a new project in my front yard. One of the things I required was that they install soaker hose for me. Then I could simply walk out to my front porch, hook the soaker hose to my hose bid, turn on the water and come back an hour later knowing that my new plants were getting the water they needed. I did not lose any of my plants and I attribute the success of this project to my soaker hose.
This is a great project to do when you are planting new shrubs or perennials as I suggested above. Set out the plants in a design you like and then lay out the soaker hose around the plants like I did in the bed shown below.
Plant your plants and secure the soaker hose with landscape staples. Then cover the hose and other areas of the bed with a nice layer of mulch. You can use the soaker hose to be sure that your new plantings get enough water. (And don’t forget to disconnect the hose before freezing temperatures arrive!)
Sometimes after a busy spring and summer of gardening, it’s tempting to close down things early. I hope that this blog post gives you some inspiration and that you can find time to continue to enjoy your garden through the fall. By doing some of these projects, you’ll get a jump on spring gardening and be rewarded with well-established plants and new beds!
What’s your favorite fall gardening project? Comment Below and fill us in – we’d love to hear your ideas!