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Michael Wheeler: Time to plan for fall planting
Michael Wheeler
Michael Wheeler, new director of Hall County Extension

Late summer is an excellent time to begin plans to renovate your landscape. By planning now, you will be ready to take advantage of the best planting time in the fall.

While we are talking about taking advantage of good timing, the Hall County Master Gardener Extension Volunteers are planning their Fall Garden Expo for Sept. 29 and 30 at the Chicopee Agricultural Center in Gainesville. There will be native plants, trees and shrubs, perennials, garden goods and speakers discussing the latest issues in the gardening world. Go to for more information.

So before the expo, there are a few things to keep in mind about your site. Does your site have full sun, lots of shade or a little of both? Are there places in the landscape that hold water all the time, or is there a spot that never grew plants that well, no matter what you planted?

As far as plants, consider what they need and will tolerate in the landscape. Some plants that need full sun will struggle in shade, other plants might be able to tolerate wet conditions. Then there are a few plants that are robust enough to handle varied soil conditions. Regardless of the site conditions, you have to consider the size of the mature plant. Placing plants too close to each other increases chances of diseases, and if they get too tall by the house may damage the overhang over time.

If you are renovating, the use of curves can help make your beds attractive and allow the eye to follow your plantings across the yard. An easy way to lay out your beds is to use a water hose. Using a hose will allow you adjust your curves as many times as you need to so you get everything just right. When you are laying out your curves, think about maintenance of any turf areas. Do not use tight or small curves that will become a problem to mow around. Keep the curves sweeping and broad to make mowing easy around the beds. You can also add an element of a third dimension to your beds by adding topsoil and organic matter to create a mound that is 8-10 inches high.

Grouping plants with odd numbers is a way to get better display of your plants, and it is easier to figure out placement of a group of plants rather than a single one. Place larger plants in the back of the bed and shorter ones in the front. This moves the eye all over the bed and makes it seem richer and more cheerful.

Plant texture, whether it has to do with coarse versus fine leaves or smooth or scaling bark, is another aspect of design that gives you something to consider in the design of your landscape. Plant texture provides depth to a planting and can create interest at different times of year, like in the winter.

Use colors to control space. Warm colors attract the eye; fooling you into thinking they are much closer. You can use warm colors to make a large garden feel smaller and more intimate. Cool colors reduce a space so they seem more distant and make a small area feel larger than it is.

Think over some of these tips and I hope they help make your renovation a success this fall.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly and on

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