6 Smart Gardener Tips for Autumn
3 Things You Should Do in Autumn
1). Plant grass seed now!
Smart gardeners sow fescue seed in the early autumn, after the summer heat but before the daytime temperatures drop below 70F°. Fescue seed needs warm weather to germinate, but not hot weather. After Labor Day through Halloween is the perfect window.
It’s also smart to sow seed before the leaves begin falling. There is no need to use straw when overseeding an existing lawn, but try to time your seeding with imminent rain in the forecast.
Now is also the perfect time to plant a new lawn. Prepare the base by spreading a layer of Tip Top Soil over the existing soil, then seed fescue with a spreader. It’s smart to cover the seeded area with wheat straw, or the birds will feast on your seed. Use a starter fertilizer (a fertilizer with the first of the three numbers of the NPK analysis being the lowest). The best place to get such a fertilizer is at your local Farmers Coop or a Landscape Supply store.
2). Save your leaves and start composting!
As the autumn progresses and the leaves fall, remember to use a mulching mower on the leaves. The fine particles of ground up leaves are your lawn’s top dressing!
Autumn is also a great time to start composting! Collect leaves that fall onto patios and driveways and into your landscaping. Find a remote spot in your yard and pile the leaves into your new compost site. Save all the organic material you usually throw away (potato peelings, lettuce leaves, coffee grinds, eggshells). Just place them in a bucket in your kitchen. When the bucket is full, empty it onto the leaf pile and cover with leaves. You are now a certified composter, mixing the nitrogen rich organic waste with the carbon rich leaves. This mixture will serve you well when gardening resumes next spring!
3). Plant shrubs, perennials, and bulbs!
Autumn is a great time to plant because the cooler temperatures reduce transplant stress on shrubs and perennials. Plant perennials such as Black Eyed Susans and Coneflowers now, and they will reward you with their beauty next spring. Plant bulbs such as Daffodils and Tulips last, usually around Thanksgiving.
3 Things You Should Not Do in Autumn
1). Don’t get rid of your leaves.
Leaves are nature’s fertilizer and one of the building blocks of soil. Save your back and your energy, and instead of raking and disposing of leaves, mow leaves with a mulching mower and save the rest for your compost.
2). Don’t worry about weeds in your lawn now.
If you have suffered from crabgrass and other weeds in your lawn this past summer, now is not the time to do anything about it. The crabgrass and other weeds have already seeded your lawn with next year’s weeds. Simply overseed your lawn with fescue now. The fescue is a cool season grass and will germinate in the autumn, while the weed seeds will remain dormant and wait for next summer.
When winter rolls around, get a head start on reducing the presence of weeds by using a spreader to cover your lawn with pre-emergent weed preventer, best done between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
3). Don’t fertilize plants yet.
Fertilizing a lawn in autumn is okay, especially if you’re planting new grass seed. But avoid fertilizing other plants. If you fertilize now, you will stimulate plant growth, especially if we have a mild or wet autumn. Then comes the frost!
No need to damage plants by encouraging growth during winter. Let them go into hibernation and help them by installing a protective layer of mulch around the base of your flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs to prevent damage to root systems from very cold temperatures.
Here’s to a Great Autumn Season… Spent Outside!
If you need mulch or topsoil for this season’s outdoor projects, we have the best mulch in Nashville! Simply visit our website to place an order, respond to this email, or call our office at (615) 356.2600.
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