Leaves are falling, temps are dropping and there's that crisp scent wafting through the air. Fall is here. And while we enjoyed the beauty of our spring and summer gardens as they offered a welcome call up to our homes, we need to prepare them now if we want the same summer hello. Try these tips to get your garden ready for the fall season.
1. Planting bulbs - There is no easier way to color up your spring garden than by planting bulbs. But bulbs need to be planted in the fall to give them the winter chill they need to stimulate spring blooming. In many places in the Western U.S., it has been un-seasonably warm and the soil is still too warm to plant just yet. But buy them now and hold in a cool 55-60° F room until your area has had a frost or two. Then it's time to plant. Many bulbs are perennials and will naturalize (multiply and spread) when they find your yard to their liking. Spring-blooming bulbs are some of the best low-care plants you can grow. And they're an important sources of early season nectar for hungry honeybees!
2. Garden clean-up - Resist the urge to cut all your ornamental grasses and perennial plants down to the ground in the fall. While I can understand that many gardeners call it a year by trimming back the garden before winter, it's desirable to leave herbaceous plants standing. This provides habitat for beneficial insects, butterflies and moths that overwinter, hidden and protected in the dead plant stems and leaves.
Many ornamental grasses and plants also have ornamental seed heads that provide both winter beauty for us and food for seed-eating songbirds.
The fall garden with Miscanthus sinensis and Solidago.
3. Finding places to plant more fall bloomers - I'm not sure why, but fall is quite often an overlooked time of the year for landscape color. We have a huge variety of late summer and fall blooming perennials and ornamental grass to choose from, so the fall garden can be every bit as colorful as the spring garden.
Look around your yard and identify where new late summer and fall bloomers could be planted. Recognize that late season flowers are also a vitally important nectar source for bees and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds. (Your neighborhood bee keepers will thank you!)
How are you getting your home ready for the fall season?