Crisp, cool mornings. Perfect “sleeping weather” at night. Plant catalogs and landscaping “how to” books piling up on our coffee table. It must be Fall!
Fall is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons, not just the wonderful weather. This is that special time of year when we prepare and plant now, anticipating a wonderful spring and summer a few months in the future.
Let’s take a look at four areas pertinent to the season: pruning, weed control, budgeting and tree selection.
The end of summer and the very beginning of fall is a good time for some gentle pruning. But note the emphasis on the word “gentle“. Careful shaping of trees and shrubs can be tackled right now, but this isn’t the time to do an “Edward Scissorhands” with those pruning shears!
In a useful online article originated by the Office of Agricultural Communications at Mississippi State University, Norman Winter, horticulture specialist with the University’s Extension Service, says, “Extensive [fall] pruning could generate too much succulent growth and an early freeze could then damage the plant. It is better to do major pruning just before spring while the plants are still dormant.”
A friend of mine told me that he doesn’t believe in getting rid of weeds. “If I killed off all weeds and broadleaf,” he said, “I wouldn’t have anything green at all to look at!” If you said “amen” then maybe you should skip this section, but for the rest of us, this is a good time to apply a systemic weed killer such as Roundup, the chemical name for which is glyphosate. Actively-growing weeds absorb the glyphosate through their leaves and suck it down to the roots. It can take a couple of weeks to totally kill the weeds, as the absorption process is relatively slow. Avoid the temptation to cut back weeds before the process is complete or you’ll prevent the glyphosate reaching the roots.
Products like Roundup work best when the ambient temperature is still fairly warm, so don’t wait too long to attack your weeds. Check the weather forecast, too, and avoid applying just before a rain shower which would wash it off.
If you prefer not to use chemicals, you can of course use a small gardening fork or trowel and carefully remove all the offending weeds by hand.
It’s a good idea to devote some thought to how much you can comfortably invest in your landscape this season. And yes, it is an investment that will pay off next spring and probably for years ahead. Do some comparison shopping to find a good balance between price and quality. Your PC (or iPad these days) is the perfect tool as it allows you to go “Window” shopping without leaving home!
I suggest you get a pad and start writing down plants and prices as you come across them during your online (or print catalog) search. Be sure to make a note of the web address, too, while you’re surfing so that you can easily return to that resource when you get around to ordering. As you build your wish list, put asterisks by the “must haves” and gradually delete those plants that don’t quite make the cut. If all your “must haves” fit within your budget, you know you can order without stretching the dollars too thinly! Don’t forget we live in CLIMATE ZONE 7-8 so make sure your choices match!
As you make your fall selections, don’t forget about trees! Truly, trees are an investment in so many ways. They can shade your home from summer sun and protect it from icy winter winds. They reduce soil erosion and help to lower your utility bills. When it comes time to move, carefully chosen trees create “curb appeal” for would-be buyers, and increase the value of your property.
Summer blooming trees like crape myrtles and vitex respond well to a deadhead-type pruning. Removing spent flowers and seed heads often generates new growth and another round of blossoms. If you’d like some of my personal recommendations for trees you might want to select, send me an e-mail with a few basic details about your location, etc, and I’ll get back to you with some ideas.
Other Fall Tips
Despite the warm temperatures, now is an ideal time to plant many flowers. It is not too late to enjoy one more round of summer annuals, such as marigolds and zinnias, before planting cool season plants like pansies, violas, kale, cabbage and snapdragons for winter.
The fall is when perennials such as irises, daylilies, amaryllises, shasta daisies and purple coneflowers should be dug and divided. The general rule of thumb is to divide plants in the season opposite their bloom.
Dividing serves at least two purposes: it will provide you with more plants to enjoy and it will increase the plants’ blooming ability.
Winter recommended sowing wildflower seeds, such as larkspur, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan and liatris, now for next year’s bloom. They will germinate this fall and bloom next spring.
Most of all enjoy this beautiful season!
Question: Jimmie, I recently installed a swimming pool in our backyard and am going to attempt to landscape it myself (It’s my first landscaping project so don’t be surprised if I’m calling you for help soon when I screw it up!) I want to include a few Palm trees but I’m not sure what types are considered hearty here? Please help! Jennifer S. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Jennifer, I’m sure you will do great job! If not, we are always here to help you if need be. Probably a few of the most hearty Palms for our climate zone are; Windmill Palm, Sabal Palm, Pindo Palm, Sago Palm and Mediterranean Palm depending on your personal preference of the different types of foliage. Most would be considered “Anchors” in your design.
Until next time…Happy Gardening!!
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.