Now that the weather has cooled off, you can attack your autumn gardening chores without fear of getting sunstroke. By preparing your landscape now for the next growing season, your chores then will require less time and much less effort. Let’s take a look at where you should focus your efforts this fall season.
1. Clean Up
Rake up the leaves that have fallen on to your lawn and shred them into mulch. Drain any water out of fountains, hoses or irrigation systems. Dig up what’s left of your annuals and compost them. If the summer bulbs grew heartily in your area, you can leave them in the ground. Otherwise remove them and store in peat moss or sand in the garage or another cool place.
2. Put Your Grass to Bed
Cut your lawn as short as you can. Then, run the lawn mower until all the gas is gone. Change the oil, lubricate the engine and check the spark plug. Oil the spark plug hole and pull the start cord several times to grease the engine. In the spring, sharpen the blades, add gas and you’re ready to mow. Fertilize your lawn before it goes into hibernation for the winter.
3. Grow Vegetables
Clean up the dead stalks, weeds, debris and such so pests and diseases can’t take cover in them throughout the winter. Plant some fall crops to keep the fresh produce rotating through your kitchen. Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and radishes all survive well in cooler temperatures. In fact, some say they taste better after a few light frosts.
4. Plant Bulbs
If you want early spring color, first you need to prepare the soil. Dirt with lots of clay in it doesn’t drain well, so add compost or peat moss to the top 12-18 inches. Add bone meal or phosphorous next, which serves as fertilizer for the roots of the bulbs. Then, put daffodils, crocus, iris and hyacinths in the ground. Tulips do better when planted in late fall.
5. Add Color
Winter annuals grow well in climates where the temperature doesn’t fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Try planting snapdragons, Chinese pinks, violas, pansies, mums and for greenery, ornamental cabbage and kale.
6. Cover Fragile Plants
Place a sheet or blanket over your less hardy plants when you’re expecting a freeze. Then, place a piece of plastic over the sheet or blanket to provide extra insulation. The next day when the temperature warms up to above freezing, remove the coverings. For shrubs or small trees, create a faux tent using burlap to keep them warm.
7. Thoroughly Water
Give all your plants and trees a good dowsing of H20 to keep them hydrated throughout the winter. Don’t forget to collect the fall rainwater to recycle in your garden.
8. Don’t Forget Your Feathered Friends
Although not actually a gardening chore, keeping the feeder full in autumn helps birds get the nourishment they need when food is scarce.
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