While the evenings are cooler, the days are still warm, making autumn gardening a perfect time to start your winter preparations.
Traditionally Spring is seen as the optimal season for planting, but that’s really a fallacy.
Thanks to the summer warmed soil and more frequent rainfall of early fall, autumn gardening is far better for perennials and many trees and shrubs. Why? It’s easier for them to form roots with a more temperate and evenly moisturized soil.
Spring planting often leaves plants struggling for their first season as they are planted in cold soil, making rooting more difficult, while at the same time the new plants are dealing with fast growing foliage thanks to the warm air that surrounds them.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some plants and trees that you can plant when doing autumn gardening, to enjoy right away and into next season as well:
- Maple, spruce and pine trees—if they’re very small, don’t forget to stake them to avoid damage from the stronger fall winds.
- Don’t forget your bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and garlic!
TIP! Fall planting is most successful if you continue watering, so that roots can develop adequately and the still warm soil will be fully moisturized, prior to the first frost. Make sure to use mulch, which will help to retain the moisture and warmth in the soil and add much needed nutrients for the rooting process that will take place over the winter.
What About Planting Seeds?
Nature knows what she is doing: seeds blow around in the autumn, end up in the soil and germinate in the spring. There are certain seeds that do very well by being planted in the fall:
- Sweet peas
- Snapdragons… to name but a few!
Get Your Garden and Soil Ready For Winter
Late August/September is the perfect time to take care preliminary garden tasks like:
- Adding compost to your gardens or vegetable beds, readying the soil for spring planting.
- Covering your water features with nets to keep them leaf-free.
- Pulling weeds—these will go to seed in the fall and you’ll have that much more to pull in the spring if you don’t do it now!
- Adding fertilizer to your lawn.
- Continuing to water your plants—as we noted earlier—to make sure they are hydrated right up to the first freeze.
- Trimming back any diseased foliage to avoid a new outbreak next year. Do NOT compost the diseased clippings!
- Pruning perennials that are now dormant—gone yellow/brown in the stems and leaves.
Sod Or Overseed Your Lawn In The Fall
Cooler air in September onwards means less evaporation and limited growth of grass stems, so the grass seeds or sod have ample time to develop a strong root structure. Next summer? Your lawn will be the envy of the neighbourhood.
Consider using a high quality weed free overseeding soil—which contain organic compost—if you are going with seeds, to ensure that there are adequate nutrients available.
Don’t Forget Your Herbs
This is a perfect time to collect all the remaining herbs in your garden to dry them out for use throughout the winter. If you’re bringing some inside for the season, September is the perfect time, before the temperature fluctuations start to damage the plants.
Remember, clay pots, in particular, don’t do well as temperatures begin to cool more – they crack in the cold.
Once the temperatures start to really dip in October, it’s time to bring them inside for the season. Even if you have plastic pots, our advice is to store them in the garage at the very least so they don’t become bleached and weathered and last a year or two longer.
The average Southern Ontario September is mild and enjoyable with cooler evenings and no mosquitoes! So get outside, start autumn gardening and enjoy the fruits of your labour now and next season. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions about fall gardening.