Home Improvement: What to do in the garden this fall

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, September 30, 2018


• Early fall is the time to start fertilizing cool-season lawns. Slow release fertilizers work best; those that have a 4-1-2 ratio work best. Those that prefer to use grade, or a combination should split applications of 10-10-10 fertilizer again in October and November.  Use about 5 pounds each month.  Use our holidays as a rule of thumb to fertilize cool season lawns-Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

• Core aerate lawns when the soil is damp and soft to promote root growth and expansion.

• Reseed thin areas of cool season turf with 3-4 pounds of turf-type fescue per 1,000 square feet.  Completely bare areas or new lawns should be seeded with 5-7 pounds of turf type fescue per 1,000 square feet.

• Remove summer annuals now. It’s difficult to remove beautiful plants, but the longer you wait, the less availability of cool season fall annuals.

• Pansies, flowering kale and cabbage and other cool season annuals can be planted this month for additional fall color. Use a houseplant fertilizer at planting with high phosphorus to give them an extra boost of growth before cold weather arrives. Keep the dead heads pinched back.

• Now is good time to divide your perennials. Plants should be healthy and at least three years old.

• Mums are a favorite fall flower in Rowan County. Yellow is the favorite color, but there are a host of brilliant fall-colored mums. Select late bloomers for full season color.

• Houseplants need to be moved indoors from their summer vacation. Watch the weather reports carefully.  Many houseplants are damaged by cold weather before a frost occurs.

• October is the month to plant spring flowering bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other spring flowering bulbs can be planted this month. Augment the soil with high phosphate fertilizer at planting for large blooms in the spring.

• Composting is a good way to return nutrients back to the earth. Construct a compost bin and prepare for the deluge of leaves that will arrive later this month.

• Continue to fertilize cool season lawns in late October. Irrigate lawns during dry periods in the fall.

• Keep leaves off newly seeded and existing turf to help fescue obtain maximum growth.

• Camellia sasanquas bloom later this this month.


 • Leaves have now arrived and it’s important to compost if possible. Shred and start your compost pile.

• Trees and shrubs can be planted now during dormancy. Have a realistic plan before planting.

• Spring flowering bulbs can be forced this month in time for the holidays. Paper white narcissus, amaryllis and other bulbs can be forced this month. Make sure the bulb variety is a cultivar that adapts to indoor forcing.

• Maintain the fertilization regime for cool season lawns. This should be the last application until early spring.

• Spring flowering bulbs can still be planted in the landscape this month.

• Poinsettias are available for the holiday season this month. Rowan County producers will have beautiful plants just before and after Thanksgiving.  Visit local poinsettia growers for beautiful, locally produced, holiday plants.

• Christmas season begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Choose and cut operations and Christmas tree stands will have beautiful trees for the holiday season. Place your live tree in a shady place in the carport or outside before bringing indoors. Saw one inch off the butt end and place in a water until brought indoors.

• Now that most of the gardening is done, it’s time to clean the tools for the long winter storage. Put gas additives in small engines to preserve gas until the spring. Clean the soil off shovels and other hand tools.  WD-40 or other lubricating oils prevent rust. Thoroughly clean hand pump sprayer. Take out the plunger and store sprayer upside down to dry during the winter months.

• Cool weather this month allows home gardeners to complete hardscaping projects such as sidewalks, rock walls, decks, low voltage lighting etc.