Fall is for planting, but it is for much more as you prepare your gardens for winter. I have already covered fall planting, but there are a number of other tasks that should be done at this time. They include:
- Mowing Your Lawn. Continue to mow at 2 ½” to 3” until it stops growing for the season. Then mow it one more time at 2” to 21/2”.
- Divide Perennials. Fall is a good time to thin out your perennials that have overtaken your garden. Just dig up the plants and divide the roots into four pieces – quarter it. Use a sharp shovel, loppers, pruning shears or other sharp tool. Then replant one piece back into your garden and place the others in nursery pots to give to your gardening friends, plant in another of your gardens or donate to a garden club plant sale.
- Transition Oversummering House Plants Indoors. This may sound simple, but it isn’t. If plants have spent the whole summer outdoors, do not just abruptly bring them indoors. This may traumatize them. Instead, bring them inside for the night as temperatures begin to dip to about 50º or less, depending on the plant’s lowest temperature tolerance. Each morning, take the plants back outdoors until just before the daytime temperature also dips below the plants’ tolerance levels. By then, they should be acclimated to living indoors for the winter.
- Care For Tender, Portable Plants. Many containerized perennials, and even shrubs, need to be overwintered away from the clutches of Old Man Winter. I recommend a cold frame. Cold frames may be available at some local garden centers and even some of the big boxes, or they can be purchased online. Cold frames look like a miniature greenhouse and come in many sizes, shapes and materials. Some are soft plastic and can be folded up like a tent when not in use. Others are glass, Lexan or plexiglass in wood, metal or plastic frames. You can even make one yourself with old storm windows or doors.
Of course, watering is still necessary if we don’t get sufficient rainfall. Plants need an inch of water a week right up until the ground freezes