Don’t wish away the time! The cooling temperatures and shorter days have caused many changes in our landscapes. The most noticeable is the annual display of fall tree color. If only it would last a little longer!
So what is next – Trick-or-Treating, turkey, caroling and light displays? Yes, the holidays are fast approaching, but don’t wish away the time we have remaining to spend outside in our yards, gardens, and parks!
The gardening season may be winding down, but it is never completely over, and there is still much to be done! Below is a short checklist of things to be done before retreating indoors until next spring.
1. Keep right on planting!
Trees and shrubs can be safely planted in cold weather (yes, even freezing temps!) so long as the ground is workable. The great thing about planting this time of year is that little care is required after planting. Follow normal planting instructions.
2. Maintain newly planted trees and shrubs
Trees and shrubs that were planted this year are now going dormant. For leafy deciduous plants (plants that drop leaves), this means that no care is necessary once leaves have dried or fallen from the plant. However, evergreens will need periodic watering to replace moisture lost through green needles/leaves. Rain and melting snow will benefit new evergreens, but should it be a dry winter, or should the ground be frozen, hand-watering will be beneficial.
What about fertilizing plants? Fertilization of trees and shrubs is most beneficial in the spring. However, a tree or shrub that struggled this year to stay healthy may benefit from a light fall fertilization.
3. To trim or not to trim?
Some plants can be trimmed now, but some should not. Starting with plants that shouldn’t be trimmed now – these include spring-flowering shrubs such as lilac, oakleaf hydrangea, azalea. The best time to trim these plants is within a month of the end of their spring flowering. Evergreens such as boxwood and holly can be trimmed now, but it is best to wait for spring to clean up any foliage die-back.
Other plants can be trimmed now such as paniculata hydrangeas, spirea, potentilla, weigela, burning bush, ornamental grasses, roses, butterfly bush, and any perennials that have died back to the ground. Add mulch around the base of roses and butterfly bush for extra protection from cold weather – pull this back from the plant in spring.
4. Dig, cure, and store bulbs
After the frost/freeze has killed the foliage of spring/summer flowering bulbs, it is time to dig them out, cure them, and store them for next growing season. This should be done with plants such as elephant ears, cannas, and dahlias.
5. Think Spring!
With the holidays fast approaching, it may be difficult to look beyond to spring. Think warm happy thoughts! Now would be the time to plant bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Have you ever planted pansies in the fall? Why not? Pansies thrive in cooler weather – enjoy colorful flowers now and in the spring!
6. Start the Process Now
Are you thinking of taking on a landscape renovation next year? Don’t wait for spring to get started. Much can be done now to save time next spring. Take measurements and photographs of landscaping beds now, before it gets too cold. Take time to research possible plant solutions. Want to do the renovation yourself but not sure what to plant and how many? Consider our Snapshot Gardening program – we design and you install!