Landscaping Maryland

Autumn Gardening Checklist

Now that fall is here, with cooler temperatures that make gardening more pleasurable, it’s time to get outside and tend to those chores you’ve been putting off. Here are a few tips to get you started on your fall gardening.

Garden Color
Plant chrysanthemums, pansies, and ornamental cabbage and kale in your planters and flower beds for flower power well into the fall season.

Plant spring blooming bulbs like crocus, daffodils and tulips now for some welcome color in the coming spring.

Most gardeners cut back dying foliage to make their gardens look neater. However, some perennials add winter interest or provide food for the birds if left uncut. Ornamental grasses and Black-eyed Susans are good examples.

If the plant is woody or twig-like, like a butterfly bush, do not cut the foliage back until early spring.

Cut back any plant that had disease or insect problems. Be sure to dispose of, not compost, the foliage.

Lightly fertilize plants and beds where spring blooming bulbs are planted with bone meal according to package directions.

Fertilize spring blooming shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons with a slow release fertilizer like Holly-tone.

Divide spring and late-summer blooming perennials if needed.

Trees and Shrubs
Fertilize plants in late October with an all-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 according to package directions. Do not fertilize newly planted trees and shrubs. If we have a dry fall, water plants that have big evergreen leaves, like hollies and magnolias, thoroughly to help prevent wind dehydration during the winter.

Evergreens can be pruned from late October until late February. Prune summer and fall blooming shrubs after they lose their leaves. If you prune spring blooming shrubs now, you will forfeit their flowers next spring.

Weed then mulch garden beds to a depth no greater than 3".

Lawn Care
Fall is the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn. Although September is considered the optimum month for creating a new lawn, grass seed will still germinate well into October.

Feed the grass with a slow-release fertilizer once in September, once in October and again in November.

Weedkillers can also be applied to kill broadleaf weeds.

Remove falling leaves from your lawn areas promptly to prevent them blocking the sunlight the grass needs to thrive.

Other Chores
Make sure pesticides and fertilizers are in a protected area so they will not freeze.

Clean, sharpen and repair garden tools.

Drain gasoline and oil from lawn mowers and power tools. Be sure to dispose of the gasoline properly. Have your mower serviced, if necessary, before the spring rush.

Bring terra cotta pots and statuary inside for the winter. The constant freezing and thawing temperatures common to our area may crack and destroy your containers.

While you are out doing your fall chores, remember to stop and admire the beauty around you. The changing colors on trees, the breath-catching blue of an October sky, the honking of Canada geese as they fly overhead-Fall is one of the best times of the year in the Chesapeake Bay region.