What to Plant in the Fall for a Gorgeous Spring Yard
Get a head start on your spring curb appeal now with these pretty fall plantings.
What makes fall time so good for planting? Once the heat of summer ends, the more moderate temperatures of fall are considerably easier on plants and gardeners alike. But while the air temps are cooler, the ground soil is still warm enough for plant roots to grow until the frosts hit. Also, autumn rainfall is typically abundant, but even if it isn’t, administering a deep watering is a snap. Plant diseases and pests? Less active. And as a bonus, garden centers are usually trying to clear out their inventory before winter with huge discounts. Try to load up on bargain trees, shrubs, perennials and spring-blooming bulbs, which can all be put in the ground before a hard frost hits. Lastly, don’t leave out your lawn — fall time is the time to seed cool-season turf grass. By planting these in the autumn, you’re ensuring a beautiful, colorful spring.
Even though you won’t be able to appreciate the results of your efforts until the following spring, spring-blooming bulbs (think hyacinths and tulips) must be planted in the autumn. Numerous bulbs are available in a large selection of varieties, so you should be able to pick the bloom times, heights and colors that fit your garden best. Are deer or other garden pests an issue? Consider planting bulbs that don’t appeal to them, such as grape hyacinths, alliums, and daffodils.
Violas & Pansies
As mentioned before, autumn offers still-warm ground temperatures that allow enough time for roots to become established before winter. This factor is what makes it an ideal time to plant violas and their larger cousins, pansies. By putting them in the ground during fall, you’ll actually be able to enjoy them for two seasons because they frequently bloom again when it warms up in the spring. If you’re located in an area where you experience ground freezes, consider finding varieties that are more cold hardy. To help pansies and violas survive the winter, a thick mulch layer around them is helpful once the soil is frozen, as it insulates the plants from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing that can work them out of the ground.
Whether by seed or in the form of fresh sod, new turf grass is best established in the autumn. Seeding is typically an easier and less expensive option for installing a new lawn, but sod provides quicker results. If you’re just interested in supplementing a scant or patchy lawn, simply rake the bare spots to expose the earth, spread grass seeds where you’d like them to grow, and then loosely cover the areas with straw or compost. Be sure to keep the new turf well-hydrated up until the freezing temps hit.
Shrubs & Trees
That magical time period between the heat of the summer and the first frost is the perfect time to plant shrubs and trees since the soil stays warm enough for the roots to develop. Before putting a shovel into the ground, however, be sure to consult your local utility companies so that you don’t interfere with any underground lines. In addition, it’s important that trees and shrubs are planted at their natural soil lines. Keep them well-hydrated until the ground is frozen to ensure they are firmly rooted before going fully dormant during the winter months.
Fall is among the best times to add to your collection of perennials. Dividing and replanting your existing perennials, like astilbe and hostas, is also an option. Once again, keep the perennials you plant during the fall well-watered until the ground is frozen so that their roots become established before heading into dormancy for the winter. A 3-inch layer of mulch or shredded leaves will protect them from frost heaving. When spring arrives, your new perennials will be ready to go — bringing fresh foliage to your garden beds.