The time will soon come for gardeners to take a well-deserved rest, but it’s not here yet. Much work still needs to be done, but it can be accomplished without the rushed pace of the beginning of the season.
Annual plants should be pulled up and removed from both flower and vegetable gardens. Most can be composted, but a plant showing signs of disease should be disposed of in the trash. If your compost bin is overwhelmed by too much plant matter this time of year, dig trenches in your garden and bury the spent plants so that they can compost underground.
This is also the time to pull those perennial weeds that have crept in around the edges of your beds, behind your garage, or in your fence line. The dandelions, clover, grasses and plantain are not going to die over the winter no matter how cold it gets. Next spring you’ll wish you had taken the time to get rid of them in fall. With the recent rain, weeds should come out of the ground rather easily.
The rain did us another favor. Evergreen plants, including broad-leaf evergreens like boxwood, should be kept well watered until the ground freezes, around Thanksgiving. Evergreens continue to transpire water from their needles and leaves throughout the winter and need to be well-hydrated to survive. If Mother Nature doesn’t provide rain, we need to make sure the evergreens are watered ourselves. This may prevent another massive evergreen die-off like we had last winter.
Mid-October is the time to plant bulbs of spring bloomers like tulips, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths. Bulbs should be planted pointy-end up, about 2 ½ times as deep as they are tall. So a two-inch bulb gets planted about five inches deep.
This is also the time to finally get rid of that plant you really don’t like, but have been giving it “one more year” for years on end. It is much easier to dig it up and get rid of it now than it will be in spring when it begins to grow again. The bare spot left when the plant is gone will inspire you take a new look at your landscape and provides an opportunity to plant something new that you haven’t grown before.
Autumn is the best time of year to deal with two invasive plants. Buckthorn should pulled if the plants are small enough to loosen without excessive effort. Otherwise, cut it as low to the ground as possible and paint the cut area with Brush-B-Gone.
In your lawn, creeping Charlie, or ground ivy, can be killed with one cup of borax mixed with two gallons of warm water that is sprayed over 1,000 square feet.
Don’t be in a hurry to rake your lawn. Unless the leaves are several inches deep, use a lawnmower or leaf shredder to shred them. Then leave them on the lawn to fertilize it, compost them, or use them for mulch.