Prep for a Beautiful Fall Garden and Lawn Now!

We are already a third of the way through September and we have many choices for projects we can tackle in the Oklahoma garden. For our lawns, we can apply a weed and feed combination to fertilize the lawn while we kill the winter weeds before they germinate. If you are not worried about weeds you can make your final fertilizer application of the season. If your lawn is already well fed you can apply a granular or spray weed killer (herbicide) by itself to control those winter weeds like henbit, chickweed and annual bluegrass before the seeds can sprout. This is also prime season to overseed tall fescue seed if you want a green lawn through the winter. Plant tall fescue or annual or perennial rye grass on bare soil to prevent blowing dust and erosion until you can proceed with a full landscape plan next spring or in the future. Spring flowering bulbs are arriving now at area garden centers and nurseries and although you have a couple of great months ahead for planting these bulbs you often can get the biggest and best daffodil, tulip, hyacinth and crocus bulbs by shopping early. Our spring and summer plantings are looking good and most have put on a flush of new growth and/or flowers as we have enjoyed these shorter days, cooler nights and the surprisingly cool days. Deadhead or cut off the old flowers on plants like roses, geraniums, salvia and coreopsis to keep the energy going to new flowers, not seeds, you can enjoy from now until the killing freeze. Fall is a great time to plants trees and shrubs and gives them the chance to get rooted in and established before the following hot, dry summer.

There are a number of plants that say autumn or fall to us, probably none more than hardy mums or fall chrysanthemums. Hardy mums are perennials and will come back next season, unlike the florist or potted chrysanthemums which are an annual and will freeze out with a killing freeze. Hardy mums are now available in most all of your local nurseries and garden centers with buds or flowers already visible on the plants. They are generally available in 4” pots, 6” pots, 1 gallon, 2 gallon, 3 gallon or even 5 gallon sizes, in mum pans or decorative containers. You can keep them in a decorative container on your porch or patio or plant them in your flowerbeds for fall color. They will burst into mounds of fall color over the next few weeks and will often stay colorful until a hard killing freeze shuts down their flower show for another year. Hardy mums are available in a full rainbow of colors including red, bronze, yellow, purple, pink and white and many variations of these colors. They do best planted in full sun and should be planted away from street lights and night lights if you want them to bloom naturally in future years. Night lights will not impact the hardy mums you buy this year as the buds have already been set at this time of year. Mums are very photoperiodic and bloom with short days and long nights. They are so prolific in their flowering and use so much energy that they will require more water and more food or fertilizer than most plants. If we have warm fall weather it is not unusual that they will need watering every two or three days in ground beds and may need water even more often, even daily, if grown above ground in a decorative container. There are many styles of hardy mums including pompons, cushion, spider, anemone, quill and daisy petals to provide lots of decorating or landscape options besides color selection. Few things say fall in Oklahoma like football, fairs and hardy mums. Get in on the fun and add some beautiful and charming hardy mums to your landscape to enjoy this year and for years to come.

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