I just finished cleaning a client’s front yard by weeding, edging, mulching and adding some fabulous new plants. I am working on my own yard this week doing the same, as I prepare to host a progressive dinner party we donated to our kids’ school auction. I am realizing as I work how beneficial it is to do this exercise in the fall versus the spring. Here’s why:
- You can see where everything is. In the spring it will take weeks, even months, for all plants and volunteers to emerge from the long, cold, harsh winter. So, often you will plant your new purchase in a spot where something beautiful was already planted. I tend to go for the same spots and have made this mistake many times.
- Fall is the best time to plant trees, perennials, bulbs and grass seed. After this long, hot and dry summer, it was hard to plant anything at all into the hot, dry ground. But now the nights are cool, the ground is at an optimal temperature and the ground will continue to stay hospitable for several months. I have planted a lot for years, year-round, and fall always seems to be the most successful time to plant and divide. You can plant bulbs until the ground freezes or snow is blocking your way. Until then, fall is the best time to see where your bare spots are and where your garden needs a pick-me-up with a fabulous bulb. The stores are now loaded with every kind of bulb your heart desires, from early-blooming alliums to later-blooming fragrant Casa Blanca Lilies. And I learned from my grandma that fall is the best time to seed my lawn. The temps are perfect, and in the spring any seeds that didn’t have a chance to germinate will do so as the snow melts.
- One year’s weed – seven years’ seed. As I said, fall is the best time to plant, and that goes for weed seeds, too. They will have plenty of time to germinate both in the fall and again in the spring. So pull those weeds now and throw them away!
- Better weather! It is a much more comfortable working environment with cooler temps, and you will be way more productive.
- It is a great time to edge your garden. I just did this to my backyard, and what a difference a simple 2– to 3–inch edge makes. It is like putting on lipstick: a simple task that gives you a finished look.
- Best time to mulch! Mulching your plants will ensure they come back in the spring. Plus fall gives you 1 of 2 yearly opportunities to provide organic matter and improve your most important plant: YOUR SOIL. You can add only 1 to 3 inches to your garden at a time without suffocating your plants, trees and perennials, so you can do this only in the spring and fall. By mulching in the fall, you are improving your soil and keeping your plants healthy.
- Enjoy! You will have months of enjoyment this fall before it snows and again in the spring when the snow melts.