What should I be doing in my garden this fall?
Well as I write this, we should still be watering! This year has been crazy from record wet this spring to extremely dry, even now in the middle of October. The rare rains we have been getting are very inconsistent. At Hickory Lane Farms we’ve only gotten a couple events of about 1/8th inch. I’ve heard that Marysville got 2inches a couple weeks ago and a guy in Columbus told me he got 4 inches! (I’m not sure I can believe that one) I do know that northern Ohio has done much better in the rain department this summer as well as southern Ohio. But at your house, you need about an inch of rain per week for ideal growing conditions. That will keep the grass green and the trees happy. Even large, established trees could use a drink at this point. As for the grass, I’ve always said: “it’s a fine line between dormant and dead!”. Bluegrass normally goes dormant in late summer but with extreme, long droughts as we are having this year, that dormant grass can actually die. As with established trees, you really don’t need to worry about watering constantly. Just breaking up the weeks of drought with one good, deep soaking can make a big difference.
Otherwise, there’s not much you need to do in fall unless you are a neat freak. You can deadhead the perennials but don’t cut them back too low. The green foliage is feeding the roots now for a healthy rebound in the spring. Leaving some foliage above ground also provides insulation for the roots this winter. I know those daylilies are looking a bit ragged now. Just rake out the brown leaves with a stone rake. Pruning can be done now but be mindful of the spring bloomers and don’t cut them too hard or you’re just removing spring flower buds. It’s a good time to prune shade trees and evergreens.
Fall is also a good time to fertilize turf and trees. Fall fertilizing will encourage root growth over winter.
We don’t normally mulch in fall unless it’s a new planting or you just want to insulate the roots for winter. Mulch applied now will soon be covered with leaves and snow!
It’s a great time to apply systemic herbicide, as long as the plants are still green. Plants are sending sap to the roots in fall and taking the herbicide with it for better effectiveness.
Otherwise, just enjoy the cool clear weather, crisp nights and wonderful fall foliage!