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Cannon: Prep your yard, plants for fall, winter

POSTED: September 20, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Fall is a busy time to get a few things done in the garden since September and October are great months to prepare for next year’s growing season. It is time to kick start the garden for next year!

Whether you are getting your lawn in shape, planting bulbs, winter annuals and vegetables, or planting a few of your favorite shrubs and trees, now is the time to begin. But before you start, take time to test your soil if needed. Fall is a good time to apply and mix limestone if needed for next year’s gardens and lawns.

Winter lawns

Bermuda lawns (warm season) start to lose color as the weather cools. For a green lawn all winter, overseed your Bermuda lawn in October with annual ryegrass when daytime temps are in the 70s.

Or you can grow tall fescue grass (cool season) for a green winter lawn. Fescue should be aerated and overseeded in October. If you want to establish a new fescue lawn, October is also a good time to seed or sod a new lawn.

Winter weed pre-emergents should be applied now for Bermuda. Fescue lawns should be treated in October.

Shrubs and trees

Fall is a great time to plant shrubs and trees because the cooler weather gives the plants time to grow a healthy root system. So plant some colorful shrubs and trees to have color each fall season. And make sure you water them during dry periods.

Plants such as Japanese maple, sweetshrub, beautyberry and fothergillia sport spectacular colors in the fall. Trees such as sassafras, dogwood and sourwood have beautiful displays as well.

Hardy flowers

Start planting different flowers October through December. Remember massive planting creates a bolder statement when they bloom in the spring. Daffodils, crocus, tulips and hyacinths are some of the South’s most favorite bulbs.

Plant the tip up and make sure you plant them the right depth and put them to sleep for the winter. Think about forcing some holiday bulbs like narcissus for early blooming indoors.

Dividing perennials is also a good task. Divide iris, daylilies, peonies and gladiolus as they begin to yellow. Air dry and store them for the winter.

If you love flowering winter annuals, October is a great time to plant pansies, violas, foxglove and snapdragons. Pair these flowers with ornamental kale, leafy lettuces, swiss chard and cabbage for beautiful container pots or small edible gardens. Fertilize your plants and enjoy a beautiful winter display!

Vegetable garden

Now is the time to plant cool season veggies such as collards, cabbage, kale, lettuce, broccoli and carrots. Wait until October to plant garlic and bunching onions. Try planting some strawberry plants and sweet peas soon but be prepared to cover them if we have a really cold winter.

Watch for cold crop pests such as cabbage loopers. You can treat with products such as spinosad or Bt.

Yard maintenance

Rake leaves and grass clippings and store in a compost area. Clean up garden areas and rake out dead leaves around trees and shrubs. This will prevent the spread of fungal disease into next year.

Warm-weather plants

Bring your warm season plants indoors if needed. Clean and wash pots and plants, then repot them in clean soil to reduce insects. Water them less and place them in a sunny area indoors away from a heat source.

If you have poinsettias and Christmas cacti, place them in a darkened area for holiday blooms.

Remember, fall is a great season to get out in your landscape. Come by the Hall County Master Gardeners Fall Plant Expo today and Saturday at the Chicopee Ag Center and pick up some of your favorite annuals, bulbs, shrubs and trees.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or wcannon@hallcounty.org. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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