Managing Your Gardens Fall 2007

Posted Oct 1st, 2007 in From Vito's Desk

Gardening in the Garden City, a feature of the Senior's Review: Managing Your Gardens October / November 2007 issue - written by Vito M. Pirri. 

Fall is a beautiful time of the year. Everywhere you look, there is color. You have numerous options in planting fall gardens. In sunny locations plant asters or mums for fall beauty, they sparkle with brilliance. Ornamental grasses add much texture to a winter garden. This will add to your curb appeal up to December. For year round and fall color, plant a burning bush, holy, red twig dogwood, false bamboo and grasses.

A low nitrogen food should be applied at this time of year to help with the root development of trees and shrubs.

You should plant your spring bulbs now: tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and others. Spring lowers will add to your curb appeal in early spring. One of the best ways of keeping unwanted animals from digging up your bulbs is by using blood meal. This can be purchased at your local garden center.

Fall is a great time to plant new bushes, shrubs, trees and roses. I recommend adding a good quality triple mix / manure combination to your garden. Use one 40-litre bag of cattle manure for every 120-litres of triple mix works as a good combination. The added mixture will help promote root growth for a beautiful spring garden.

All bushes, shrubs and trees should be pruned as part of your fall yard cleanup. Take out all annual flowers and all fibrous plant roots.

These should be removed and left to dry, eliminating any soil attached to the roots. Store roots in a zip lock bag with sawdust or dry natural bark shavings, in a dry cool location, until planting next spring. There is quite an art in grooming and pruning. 

It is always best to thin out all unwanted branches. Any branches pointing downwards should be removed, without affecting the appearance of you plant. All branches pointing to the sky should be slightly pruned. Your unwanted raked leaves should be used around rose bushes as well as rose trees.   

Consider putting up stakes and wire mesh around your roses and filling them with leaves, for ultimate root protection.  Your delicate shrubs, bushes and cedar type trees should be wrapped in burlap for winter protection. 

Your eave troves and down pipes should be cleaned out allowing water to flow freely without your leaves clogging up and ice build up during the winter months. Consider installing eave trove guards on your existing eave troves.

Remember your sprinkler system need to be blown out, to avoid winter damage. Turn outside water sources off and leave outside taps open to drain, helping to avoid frozen water lines.

Lawn maintenance and fertilizing is very important in the fall. For a plush green lawn, use an Ultra Winterizing Weed and Feed… 12-14-22. This formula contains 2 powerful herbicides to control over 50 broadleaf weeds. If your lawn has any crabgrass, this is not the time of year to be concerned. Crabgrass Preventer 27-7-7 can only be applied in the spring.

Consider adding grass seed to thin lawns, using the appropriate seed for sun or shade. Do not aerate lawns until the early spring. Old dead grass is to be removed from any area that may require new sod; this is called thatching.            

For best results, a thin layer of triple mix should be applied to the new sod then rolled and watered.

I would highly recommend that any new garden beds be started at this time of the year. Cut, edge and bring in ample triple mix with manure to mound your beds. It is also very important not to stop watering. All new fall plants just recently planted should be watered for root development. 

This is the time of the year for an extensive yard cleanup. Consider organizing your shed, making room for your garden ornaments, empty pots, garden tools, patio furniture and more. Fall equipment and garden tool maintenance is crucial.

Clean all garden equipment, lawnmowers, hedge clippers, lawn edger’s, pruners, whippersnapper’s’, chain saws etc. using an oil base cleaner for all pruners prior to getting them sharpened along with your chain saw before storing away for the winter.

For pot and container gardeners, I recommend removing all soil from planters. Clay pots should be washed clean and stored upside down for the winter, to prevent cracking and breakage. 

Fall and early spring are great times of the year to have your soil tested. Garden centers sell a soil testing kit for around $40. You can expect soil results in a week.