Fall is for Planting
There is still a lot of nice weather left to get out and garden this fall. October is typically the driest month of the year in Tennessee, so be sure to keep your plantings watered.
Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees
As weather cools, we enter the best time of year to establish trees and shrubs in the landscape. Temperate weather leads to good root establishment before freezing temperatures cause plants to go dormant. This makes planting in the fall even easier than in the spring. You’ll find a good supply of trees and shrubs at local suppliers and October is just the beginning of the ideal season to install such plants in your garden. If you do plant in October, water them well until rainfall picks up in November and December.
One last effort at weeding will help to improve the appearance of your garden throughout the winter. For every weed you can eliminate from the garden this fall, you can possibly prevent thousands of weed seeds from sprouting in the garden next spring!
Garden centers and nurseries are well stocked with spring-flowering bulbs this time of year. Late October to early November is the ideal time to plant bulbs.
Don’t forget to collect and save seeds of wildflowers to sow either right now, allowing the seeds to over-winter in your garden, or early next spring. October is an ideal time to plant winter annuals in your garden for a great show of color from now until spring. Best plants to include in your winter garden are pansies, violas, snapdragons and dianthus. Plant them en masse for a major splash of color in your landscape or use them in containers to add color in strategic spots. Such winter hardy herbs as parsley, thyme and rosemary make great container companions with winter annuals. Also consider inter-planting your winter annuals with daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs. Interspersing bulbs between hardy annuals will bring a surprise burst of color in the spring. And when a fading bulb’s foliage begins to wither, the colorful winter annuals mask the yellowing material beautifully.
Don’t Forget Your Lawn
Fall is an ideal time to renew tall fescue (cool-season) lawns that have suffered during hot, dry summer months. Fertilizing with nitrogen-containing fertilizers will speed grass growth, thicken the lawn and improve its color. Seeding and mulching bare areas will provide erosion control and reduce the potential for weed problems. If you have a warm-season lawn it’s not too late to prepare your Bermuda grass or zoysia lawn for winter. By increasing the cutting height now, you can help buffer these lawn grasses from extreme low temperatures in winter.
Decorate Your House
Now is a great time to decorate for fall. From now through Thanksgiving, take a cue from the first hint of the cool autumn air; focus on decorating with natural elements. The key is making displays that use the traditional icons of fall, hay bales, scarecrows and cornstalks, as supporting cast for the lead players – pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, garden or pot mums, fall pansies, asters, ornamental kale and other blooming plants. Hay bales are especially useful “benches” for building versatile displays, while corn stalks add height and definition. Eye-catching displays can add a festive touch to a front porch or the landscape when placed around a light post or at the entrance to a driveway or walk.
Andy Pulte and Sue Hamilton are on the faculty in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Department of Plant Sciences.. See http://plantsciences.utk.edu/ and http://utgardens.tennessee.edu/ for more information.