Summer is drawing to a close...
Your garden might be looking a little barren in the days leading to autumn, but just because the seasons are in transition does not mean your garden has to come to a standstill.
Here are five easy ways to perk your garden up as a last hurrah before the coming chilly months!
1. Plant Mums
Chrysanthemums, or “mums,” are a timeless fall classic, beloved for their colorful blooms that match autumn’s fiery foliage.
Mums are the perfect transition plant from summer to fall and they are easy to care for. Plant your mums in containers or in an area where they will have well-draining soil and partial sunlight, and water them frequently. Nothing screams fall like a beautiful assortment of welcoming mums!
Mums are often not expected to last through the winter, and provide short-lived color to garden beds, porches, or patios. But if you are determined to have your mums survive to next year, HGTV has a guide for how to help them make a successful return in the spring. Planting them early (like in late August) will help them “develop a strong root system” before winter, and adding the occasional mulch layer will “help insulate soil and prevent frost heave.”
2. Plant Evergreen Trees
If your garden relies mainly on flowers and vegetables to make a statement, consider implementing a few evergreen trees into the mix.
Late summer into fall is an ideal time to plant evergreens, when the soil is still warm from the leftover summer heat. A tree guide from the University of Minnesota’s Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series warns that if gardeners wait much longer to plant past late-summer, “they will not be well-hydrated and may ‘burn’ or brown during winter” because of “moisture loss from foliage that cannot be replaced by the roots.” Plant and nourish them now to get lasting verdant color in your landscape year-round!
Newly planted trees should be watered regularly for their first year in your garden. Adding mulch around their bases is a good idea to “help retain moisture, control weeds, moderate soil temperature, and give a nice appearance to the landscape.”
3. Grow a Late-Summer Crop
Several vegetables can be planted from mid-August to mid-September for a delightful fall crop.
Greens such as leaf lettuce and spinach can be started now indoors, and planted out in mid-August. Lettuce and spinach will survive cooler temperatures and tend to turn bitter from too much heat, so waiting until late summer to plant is ideal for getting a nice, sweet crop of greens.
Radishes are a great choice for this time of year too. The Cherry Belle radish is a notorious fast grower, and can be harvested only 21 to 27 days after sowing! “Bred for reliability,” this radish “has been a prize winning variety for just about 75 years, a record that attests to the ease of growing,” reads a guide on DIY Network. Get them planted now to have an early September harvest.
4. Focus on Weeding
Late summer into fall is an excellent time of year to focus on weeding your lawn and garden.
If this task is accomplished before winter sets in, springtime invaders will be less prevalent in your landscape.
This seasonal transition is “the best time for getting the upper hand over a wide range of common weeds, including Japanese knotweed, ragweed, Ailanthus, bindweed, curly dock and more,” reads a guide from A Way to Garden. This time of year also proves more effective for chemical weed treatments such as herbicides. The chemicals will impact the weeds to their roots, which will in turn prevent them from returning as easily come spring. “Fall treatments knock out both annual and perennial weeds and can actually be the key to killing established perennial invaders such as dandelion and clover,” Bayer Advanced advises.
5. Prepare Your Garden Beds
To ensure your garden will be refreshed and ready for spring, take the time now to prepare garden beds to withstand the coming winter.
Take clippings, dried leaves, dead blooms, prunings, healthy spent plant material, and other summer debris and add them to a compost pile. The best way to keep beds protected against the cold is to add a layer of compost and straw or hay over them.
Some gardeners also choose to plant a cold weather cover crop such as ryegrass or winter wheat at this time. These cover crops keep your garden soil working through the winter. When spring comes and the cover crops “are worked back into the soil, the organic material they provide increases how well the soil can hold onto water and nutrients,” notes Heather Rhoades for Gardening Know How.
With these ideas at your disposal, your garden will be looking its best even through the chilly days of fall, and will make a roaring comeback for next year!