Wait - this is October and it's fall! I am well aware of that and I also know that what you do now will have a big impact on how your plants will fare come next spring. Even though the days are definitely shorter and cooler, there is no shortage of things to do outside and now is a great time for landscapes.
Before you head inside (or somewhere warmer) for the winter, here are 8 fall gardening activities that will ready your yard for winter and another season of enjoyment next spring.
Start deadleafing your daylilies and hostas
The leaves are transferring their energy into the roots for the winter. Gently tug on the dead leaves to remove them. This will improve their appearance and prevent mold and crown rot. If you have a lot of hostas, you can leave some for the spring cleanup. If you have some large clumps that you want to divide in the spring, the leaves will help you locate them early next spring.
Leave the last few flowers on your roses
Removing spent blooms on your roses can promote additional blooming during the summer. But, in the winter the plant needs to harden itself to go dormant. The spent blooms turn into rosehips, which are a trigger for the plant to start winding down and set up for the winter.
Deadhead monarda (bee balm), echinaceas (cone flowers) and rudbeckia (black-eyed susans)
The seed heads are a nice part of the winter landscape and provide the birds with food, so leave a few of them. Cutting back the seed heads will help keep your beds under control - these prolific seeders can spread rapidly if left unchecked.
Cut back nepeta (cat mint) after a killing frost
After the frost, these are pretty much done for the year. They grow rapidly and I also trim mine in late spring after their first bloom to keep them looking neat and to promote another round of blooming.
Mulch around heucheras (coral bells), hakonechloas (Japanese forest grass) and alchemilla (Lady's Mantle)
These plants have rather shallow root systems and can heave out of the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. Mulching helps keep the ground temperature more stable and prevent these plants from being pushed out of the ground. If they do heave, gently push them back down in the spring.
Plants continue to need water and nutrients well into the fall. The best thing you can do for them is to continue to water them regularly until the ground freezes. The plants are still storing up energy to make it through the winter. New plants and shrubs are particularly needy and you should make sure to protect your investment by watering weekly.
Fill in and plant some bulbs
Now is the time to plant tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and crocus. You now know which plants will be coming up later in the spring and summer and you can add some early color to your yard. Being early starters, they also die back early, so planting them where the later risers and bloomer will hide them as they fade will keep your maintenance down and your appearance up.
What to leave for spring
Perovskia (Russian sage), buddleia (butterfly bush), clematis, astilbe, hydrangea and chelone (turtlehead) cleanup can be left until spring.
Not everyone has time to do all this and we're available yet for fall cleanups and winter preparations. Give us a call or drop us a note and we can get you on the schedule.