With the official arrival of autumn, it’s a good time begin preparing your garden and landscape for the cooler temperatures ahead.
Moore Farms Botanical Garden Director of Horticulture Brendan Huggins said the first step is to prep any areas where you want to sow or plant fall and/or winter annuals like pansies or violets. The area should be cleaned and turned over and organic matter worked into the soil if necessary.
“Fertilizers should be applied to camellia, ilex and rhododendron species. It is also important to begin removing leaf litter from plants that have anthracnose to help minimize their infection next year,” Huggins said.
Anthracnose is a group of diseases that cause dark lesions on leaves, stems, flowers and fruits.
If you plan to put in a new flower bed next spring, cover that area now with mulch or heavy plastic to discourage emergent growth.
Once leaves start to fall, don’t leave them on your lawn. Rake them up and dump them in your compost pile in thin layers mixed with other brown material. Or, run the mower over them to turn them into mulch for perennial and bulb beds.
Senior Horticulturist Katie Dickson, a whiz at flower arranging, recommends harvesting okra, hibiscus pods, cotton bolls, river oats or ornamental grass plumes for one-of-a-kind fall décor and festive wreaths. You can harvest fading annual flower varieties like yarrow, lavender, thistle, statice and gomphrenea for year-round flower arrangements. Just strip any remaining leaves and hang upside down in a bundle in a cool, dry place.
Other tips for preparing your garden this fall:
- Gently till soil to expose insects that plan to overwinter like Japanese beetles. Add a layer of compost, leaves or manure and gently till in
- Once the ground has frozen hard, cut perennials back to 3 inches and mulch around them
- Bring your herb garden containers inside once you see the herbs wilt and leave them in a spot with plenty of natural light
- Drain your water hose before the first frost so it’s not damaged in the cold