October 2011 – Tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful garden
Warm days and cool evenings are traditionally the norm for October, but this year’s weather extremes make it hard to predict! Late in the month is when fall planting season really begins, so plan now to plant throughout the late fall and winter.
• For good germination, newly seeded fescue should be kept moist, and leaves should be removed as they fall. Lightly rake or use a low setting on your leaf blower so new turf is not damaged.
• It’s time for fall cleanup in the yard. Besides raking leaves from your lawn, remove fallen leaves and petals from the rose garden and perennial beds. This will discourage pests from hiding out all winter and help to control fungal diseases next spring and summer.
• Hate to add bags of yard waste to the landfill? Make your own compost. Use grass clippings, fall leaves and kitchen waste to create your own nutrient-rich soil amendments. Get started here: http://www.ugaurbanag.com/content/composting-made-easy
• Perennials whose leaves and stems have turned brown can be cut back now, divided and transplanted.
• Take advantage of a last harvest of summer herbs, and freeze and dry for use throughout the winter. If you’ve still got a few tomato plants, watch the thermometer! If the daytime temperature falls below 65 degrees, pick the remaining fruit and let it ripen indoors.
• When nighttime temps reach 50 degrees, bring houseplants back indoors, but first determine that they’re healthy and insect-free.
What to Plant
• Plant pansies, snapdragons, violas, mustard, ornamental cabbage and kale and dianthus as soon as cooler weather arrives. Be sure to fertilize and water them after planting and throughout the growing season.
• Warm daytime temperatures and cool nights still allow time for fescue planting, but you’ll need to complete this before leaves cover the lawn. Lime and fertilize as needed, but do not apply a pre-emergent weed killer, as it will prevent weed and grass seeds from germinating.
• Fall is the best time to add many perennials in the garden.
• Paperwhites, daffodils, amaryillis and hyacinths are winter season brighteners. Start them in late October so they’ll be in bloom for the holidays and after.
Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows. [email protected]