Plant it ALL in the FALL!

NOW is the time to begin planning any fall planting projects or rejuvenating areas that revealed their problems this summer. Fall is the perfect time in the Triad to renovate or rejuvenate a landscape. 

Fall’s cooler temperatures and additional rainfall combined together form a really optimum scenario for plant growth. During autumn, plants tend to focus on root establishment versus top growth. This makes the next few months the perfect time to plant and give your landscape a leg up for the spring! They will have an advantage over plants put in the ground in spring, where the Souths’ unpredictable heat and lack of moisture can overtake them at any time. After the fall season, the plants rest and go dormant through the winter. By the time spring arrives and the plants or lawn are able to begin vigorous growth, since they are well established. 

Put these ideas on your to-do list in fall for maximum benefit next spring:

  • FIRST and FOREMOST- Before beginning your fall projects, it is in your best interest to have a landscape plan prepared beforehand: You will know not only the best plants for the best location; but you will also know the priority of projects. This will allow you to put your time, energy and money into the projects that are the most pressing and most able to give you a “bang for your buck!”

  • Plant perennials such as: Mums, Sedum, Asters, which have colorful leaves and foliage now. Ornamental grasses can be planted for color and interest now, but not after November in the Triad. 

  • Divide existing perennials now and plant them in their new locations. If you have too many perennials- have a plant swap with friends and neighbors! They will enjoy taking home some of your treasures to their own gardens and you will do the same!

  • Plant pansies and other cool weather tolerant annuals like ornamental kale. Pansies will over-winter under the snow to provide beauty next March, April and May! 

  • Clean bird feeders or put up new feed stations and keep these stations stocked with fresh clean birdseed. 

  • Plant trees or flowering shrubs. Use a liquid plant starter fertilizer at the time of planting so they put their energy into root establishment into the warm soil. 

  • Evergreens are great for fall planting. Along with the Triad’s normal evergreen pallet of Hollies, Camellias and Azaleas, try some different ones such as Osmanthus, Abelias or Cryptomeria.

  • Now is the time to mulch your beds. Mulch can provide some protection for plants for the winter season while providing some color and texture now to the fall landscape. 

  • Plant spring flowering bulbs during September, October and November. Plant to at least the recommended depth in a well drained soil with some bulb fertilizer and put them to bed for winter. Next spring your renovated landscape will burst into color. 

  • Make sure to fertilize your lawn this fall. A good winterizing fertilizer will thicken your lawn so it’s ready to go next spring! 

Kill Weeds in Fall, too!

Fall is also the perfect time for killing weeds in the lawn and landscape. As plants begin to shut down for winter in the landscape they are busy translocating nutrients to the root system. When you apply a herbicide to the foliage it is efficiently moved into the root system for a more thorough and systemic control. Please remember the following tips for lawns:

  • If you plan to be seeding a new lawn or area in the lawn , consider preparing the area by killing off weeds with glysophate (Roundup) at least 2 weeks before seeding. 

  • Soil preparation is key to success. Till the soil to at least 4 to 6 inches for good root penetration. Till in good topsoil and compost as an amendment to improve moisture and nutrient retention capability. Use a starter fertilizer for good establishment, health and vigor. 

  • A lawn renovation or overseeding project on the lawn can be accomplished by also core aerating. Follow up your aeration with over-seeding and fertilizer. This is a great rejuvenation exercise to restore or renovate tired established lawns.

All these projects will give your lawn and landscape the additional attention and energy they will need to perform their best next spring; and throughout the coming year!  

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 25 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites: