Flowers & Garden


Prepare Your Lawn And Flowers For A Beautiful Yard This Fall

Let’s face it, before you turn around it will be fall. To make sure your yard looks as good throughout that season as it does in the summer, here are some tips from professional gardeners:

Special lawn care is particularly important for the fall, to prepare it for the upcoming winter and ensure that it looks good next spring. Start by seeding bare spots on your lawn. Fall is an excellent time to plant grass seed. Make sure to water regularly until the grass sprouts.

Experts say lawns need to be fertilized twice in the fall. The first application of a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer (3-1-2 ratio) should be done in October. The second application should be applied just prior to winter.

Ask your local garden center to recommend the best fertilizer for your grass. There are even special fall or winter varieties. Local professional gardeners also recommend applying agricultural lime to your yard in the fall. This will help correct the pH balance of the soil and help prevent moss and mushrooms from growing.

Mow the lawn up to November. Be sure to rake the clippings. Once that task is completed, don’t forget to keep raking leaves that accumulate on the grass. Experts say they offer no protection to the lawn during the winter months. Excessive leaves in the winter can actually smother the lawn and ruin it for the spring.

There’s plenty to do in the flower beds as well. If you want your garden to shine this fall, plant colorful seasonal flowers such as chrysanthemums (better known as mums), fall pansies and asters, as well as ornamental pepper plants, decorative kale and cabbage, shrubs and bushes.

Check with your online nursery for new varieties available for the fall. While there, check out decorative plant containers to display on front steps, stoops or porches.

New hybrids of pansies make them hearty and are bred to withstand moderate cold. Their varied colors make them perfect for window boxes and beddings. Mums, which come in a wide variety of fall colors, and decorative kale and cabbage look great in the garden or potted on the front stoop.

Don’t overlook shrubs and evergreens. Planting them in the fall allows their roots to become established before winter and will add another dimension to the yard. Make sure they get plenty of water so that the roots will be moist enough to make it through the winter.

Colorful bushes such as hollys, pyracanthas and cotoneasters are good choices and offer decorative berries for your fall or winter table. They also look good in sprays for your front door.

Fall is also the time to plant bulbs that will bloom next spring. Many, like daffodils, irises and crocuses, are usually the first to bloom and provide pretty pastel colors for your garden.

Bulbs must be planted before the first big freeze, so that gives you a lot of time. They should be planted in an area that drains well at least 12 to 14 inches deep. Add organic material. Like all fall plantings, make sure they are watered regularly.

Summer bulbs, such as dahlias and caladium, must be dug up in the fall and stored in peat moss for the winter. Keep them in a cool, dry place.
To prepare your garden for next year, it is important to clean up this year’s flowers. Remove dead flowers and vines. Cut back perennials such as lilies and peonies and put mulch around them.
Fallen leaves should also be removed from the flower beds and your roses should be fertilized and watered well. Remove dead branches from bushes and thin hedges.

Now is also the time to think about starting a compost heap. You can make compost in a simple wire cage or in a special container available at garden centers and the Queens Botanical Garden. Use fallen leaves, grass clippings and fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Keep the mixture consistently moist. Turn it every two weeks. It takes about six months for the compost to be ready. So if you start this fall, it will be done in time to enrich the soil in the spring.