With shorter days and cooler temperatures, fall has officially arrived. Autumn is the perfect time to go out and do some seasonal maintenance work in the garden. While cleaning your lawn and garden in the fall makes your landscape look better, it is also an integral part of the healthy vegetative cycle. Many plants prepare a large part of their time for seasonal changes. However, you can help them and make sure your soil remains vital by paying them a little attention before the winter.
1. groom and feed your lawn
Fall is the best time to give a finishing touch to your lawn. Remove thatch, fertilize and reseed between mid-September and mid-November, depending on where you live. Winter fertilizers help the grass develop strong, healthy roots. Consider sprinkling your lawn with a cover crop such as winter rye. Your grass will be beautiful and green throughout the winter and spring; winter rye will add essential nutrients to the soil.
2. Cut your perennial flowers
In most cases, autumn marks the end of summer's prolific summer bloom, as the flowers use the last energy stored to close the season. While the peaks of perennials can die with the arrival of cooler weather, underground roots remain very much alive. Cutting brown foliage and dead perennials as close as possible to the soil will not interfere with the roots and will maintain the cleanliness of the garden while reducing the risk of infestation or disease. Be sure to pick up and dispose of all debris. Compost only what is healthy. Cover cold-sensitive perennials with a light layer of mulch for added protection in the winter, if you live in a cold region. It is ok to leave dried seed heads and ornamental grasses that look great, as they provide food and shelter for wildlife and add winter interest to the garden.
3. Collect and store herbs
Many herbs can be collected for storage and use in the winter, until the first frost. Picking herbs late in the season is a great way to make sure your crops are not lost. The herbs can also be grown indoors throughout the season and provide an attractive backdrop for porches or kitchen windows.
4. Address seasonal vegetables, annuals and weeds
Leaving spoiled fruit and vegetable vines and other annuals in the garden in winter is not a good thing. Not only is it unsightly, but it could also attract pests and critters into your garden and create conditions conducive to the spread of pathogens. Once the annuals are dead, they should be completely removed. Just pull the soiled plant out of the soil, roots and all, and place it in your compost pile. Do not forget to spend time tearing weeds.
5. Build a compost bin
Autumn is the perfect time to adopt the composting movement. Simple compost baskets fall into the easy DIY column and provide an economical and convenient way to cope with the endless amount of leaves that many of us have in the fall. Fill your compost bin with fresh leaves, cut grass and plant material free of harmful organisms. Cover the garbage bin and you should have a good compost in the spring.
6. Love your soil
Fall is one of the best times to take a soil sample. The soil sample will provide you with an in-depth overview of the health of your soil. Do not forget that your plants are as healthy as your soil. In the fall, change the soil of your garden by adding plenty of rich compost or aged animal manure. The addition of composted material in the fall gives the material time to decompose during the winter. Another interesting option is to plant a cover crop in your garden. Cover crops, such as winter rye, grow during the coldest months and provide nutrients to the soil.
7. Protect cold-sensitive plants
For those living in areas with severe winters, it is imperative to protect sensitive plants. The addition of mulch, such as compost, straw, pine needles, shredded leaves or aged manure is a great way to protect perennials from cold temperatures. More sensitive plants can be covered with a garden trickle. For plants and shrubs sensitive to cold winds, you can build a simple windbreak with garden fabric. Young trees can also be protected from frost and wind by using tree protectors. Plastic bells will protect groups of slow growing plants. If you have roses, especially hybrid varieties, and you live in the north, you need to help them survive in the winter. Although it takes an extremely hard winter to kill a rose, many roses suffer from dehydration due to wind and frost. Proper preparation in the fall will help ensure that your roses look perfect in the spring.
The autumn is not only a good time to clean your garden, but also to plant a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals. In many places, annuals, such as pansies, kale, and muffins, provide a splash of color throughout the winter. An added benefit is that many garden centers and houses sell perennials in the fall at a discounted price. For best results, be sure to plant before the soil gets too cold.