Fall is for Planting!  After another intense and trying horticultural summer we are enjoying the cool and pleasant reprieve of autumn.  The days are getting noticeably shorter, the nights are much cooler and even the daytime heat is moderated.  Most all of the plant world that survived the hot dry summer is breathing a deep sigh of relief as they root out for every precious drop of fall moisture.  One big benefit of fall is that there is much less evaporation and dehydration stress on our plants.  Many of the plants that have survived are putting on a fresh flush of growth. The annuals are blossoming with a new round of flowers, even the tomatoes and peppers are producing new fruit.

This fall weather unleashes a multitude of new gardening opportunities.  Hardy mums always make a big color statement from state fair time to the first hard freeze in early November.  There are so many great varieties of cushion mums that produce gorgeous mounds of white, yellow, bronze, red, pink or purple flowers.  The pallette of hardy mums includes many flower styles. Hardy mums are perennials that will survive and come back year after year if planted in the ground in a sunny location.  They also make a great seasonal show in decorative containers but are a little less likely to overwinter if left above ground.  This is also the season for ornamental kale and cabbage, the early pansy plantings, asters and other cooler blooded bloomers.

For those gardeners who enjoy a green lawn through the winter months this is the time to overseed your lawn with tall fescue.  There are many good varieties of tall fescue that do well through the cooler months of fall, winter and spring in sunny areas to provide a green winter lawn.   The same varieties of tall fescue grow well year round in shady areas.  We usually sow the fescue seed in September or October at 8 to 10 pounds per 1000 square feet.  Some gardeners plant annual or perennial rye in the fall as a winter cover crop.  It is important to get the seeds in contact with the soil and to water them in soon after planting to get good germination.  A light application of a new lawn starter or general well balanced fertilizer will also improve seeding success.

Speaking of fertilizer, this is the time to do the last fertilizer application of the season to your trees and shrubs.  A good tree and shrub food or well balanced fertilizer will help support good root growth on your established plantings even as we enter winter as the roots that are underground will stay active in the warmer soil even after their tops have shut down in the colder air temperatures.

This is also the time to be completing your applications of pre-emergent herbicides or weed and feed products to your lawn to control winter annual weeds, cheat, rescue grass, downy brome, annual bluegrass and many others that germinate in late September to early November.  The pre-emergents must be applied and watered in before they come up to be effective or you will need to use a post emergent after they are up if you want to eliminate these weeds from your winter lawn.  Do not apply a pre-emergent if you plan to sow fescue or rye grass seed.

Hope you are able to go visit your local garden center and pickup some hardy mums to kick off the fall season.


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