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October Garden Tips

Plant now for an early jump on next spring, warm days and cool nights with approaching rains mean an ideal time to get your new trees, shrubs and perennials established before next summer. Fall is one of our favorite times in the garden, and we hope you will join us for this unique time at Classic! Garden Tips Perennials & Annuals: Plant bulbs, plant bulbs, plant bulbs! The sooner the better: both for the availability of varieties as well as getting them in the ground well in advance of winter. Lift and divide existing hardy bulbs, if necessary, as well as overgrown or crowded hardy perennials, replanting into soil amended with compost. It is a prime time to also move that peony you have wanted to relocate. Plant the newest crop of pansies ("Winter Pansies") to add some fresh color to the garden or containers. Lawn Care: While the soil is still warm it is a great time to seed a new lawn, in advance of the fall rains that will aid germination. Shorter days mean slower top growth, allowing plants to store more nutrients and be in optimum condition for good, healthy growth next spring. It's still okay to give existing lawns one last feed before winter. Using a granular, organic/slow-release fertilizer will make the nutrients readily available to the grass when spring arrives and the demand is high. As the top growth slows and leaves begin to fall, mow the lawn at a shorter height than the rest of the year. Trees, Shrubs: LEAVE THE HIPS ON THOSE ROSES! They are an important signal for the plant to go into dormancy. Afterward, they are a good source of food for birds. Don’t use rose or fruit tree leaves for mulch. Rake up fallen rose and fruit tree leaves and toss them in the garbage or yard waste bin. Black spot on these plants can have spores that remain dormant until the spring. NEVER place mulch up against the trunk of trees or shrubs, and never apply more than 2-3" of mulch (see General Tips on mulching). Time is running short for the fall application of beneficial nematodes, as the weather gets steadily cooler. As it gets closer to the end of the month, check to see if that window of availability is still open. General Tips: Cover ponds with bird or other type of netting to catch leaf drop from nearby trees — much easier to remove!! Mulch: Those things that are planted/transplanted in fall should be mulched now — the mulch holds warmth in the soil longer, giving the plants more time to get established and protecting them in the winter. Mulching established plants should not be done now, because the additional warmth could promote weak, late growth that would be damaged in winter or prevent a plant from going into necessary dormancy before winter. So mulch already established plants in early winter. Fall leaves make excellent mulch. Keep them bagged/dry for winter mulching. Running over the leaves with a lawn mower will shred them into a more workable consistency, and enable them to break down more quickly. Leaves left intact may need to be removed in spring, as a nice little layer of leaves makes a dandy hiding place for (gulp) slugs. Don't apply more than 2-3" of mulch. And NEVER allow mulch contact with the trunks of trees and shrubs — it creates the perfect breeding ground for molds and funguses and offers a hiding place for pests that attack the bark of plants. Remember, with mulch you are trying to protect the roots, especially the more delicate tip roots, which are at the underground perimeter of the plant.

October Garden Tips

Make your thumb even greener. Follow some Classic Tips.


Is it hard to know when to divide the daylilies? Prune the paeony or trim the taxus? Sign up for our email Garden Tips and you'll get a monthly reminder about what's happening in your garden and what you need to do about it. (Don't want to do anything about it? Ouch. Better see our Landscape Care section!)

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