Fall Yardwork

Since I have lived in the South for 26 years, now, my yardwork and gardening knowledge is based on this region. On that note, most of this article will focus on the yard tasks that should be performed in the fall for our zone 7. However, I have been searching online and found some very informative sights that cover all zones of the US. Those web sites are provided in the Resource section of this article.

Moving on to the “Sunny South”âÂ?¦at this time of year, “sunny” is a very appropriate label for our area of the country. The yards have suffered a little this year due to the lack of rain over the summer, and our water supply is low, so we are currently on water restrictions for outside watering.

On that note, a landscaper who writes articles in our neighborhood newsletter recently stated that most established shrubbery and lawns can survive on one inch of water per week, even if that one inch is applied all at one time. Fortunately, we haven’t been restricted to only watering one day per week, yet, but that was a good thing to know. Note, however, that the rule applies to established yards – new yards of less than one-year-old need to be watered, during the hot months every other day, if possible.

Fertilizing lawns: Fall is the time to fertilize Fescue, about mid-September, and to apply a “winterizer” fertilizer to Bermuda lawns. It is recommended that the winterizer be applied about six weeks before the first frost is estimated to occur. Do not fertilize Zoysia, Centipede or St. Augustine lawns at this time.

Planting Fescue: Fall, mid-September, is the best time to plant fescue, whether it is seed or sod, because fescue is a cool-weather grass and stands a better chance of becoming well-established in the cooler months. If you seed, cover the area with wheat straw to retain moisture and protect the seed from being eaten by birds. Fertilize the new fescue lawn about eight weeks after being planted, around November.

Fall flowers: If you want to replace the color that will disappear in your yard when the summer flowers die, September is a good time to plant fall annuals. Examples of fall annuals flowers are Geraniums, Petunias or Zinnias. These all need full sun. Once the weather becomes really cold, pansies can follow in the line of color – they are cold-weather flowers and will last through the winter. I am more a perennial plant lover, and one of my favorites is the Chrysanthemum. They come in a variety of colors, and if well cared for, can last years.

Bulbs: It is recommended in the southern climate that spring bulbs be planted in October. This is also a good time to divide overgrown existing bulbs and re-plant elsewhere in the yard or give some to friends, family and neighbors.

Shrubs: Fall is the best time to plant or transplant shrubs. According to our local landscaper, the hole where the new plant will be planted (or an existing one transplanted) should be a little bigger than the root ball of the shrub. When the plant is set into the hole, the top of the root ball should sit about an inch above the ground level in order to assure water does not sit on the root ball and, potentially, rot it. The shrubs should be watered thoroughly after planting/transplanting.

Cutting Back Perennials: October is the time to cut back faded perennials for the winter.

Many of the tips in this article came from personal experience (also known, occasionally, as mistakes), a local landscaper, and the Monthly Gardening Advice section of a local nursery chain called Pike Nurseries (web site provided).

Again, this article focuses on fall yardwork in the South. In areas where winters are harsher and colder, timing and tasks may differ. I found the local nurseries and their web sites to be extremely helpful.

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