September Hort Report

Carol Giunta reported today that the drought that’s developed over the summer is changing the ways in which we should nurture our lawns, plants, shrubs, and trees as fall begins. Her list of things to do is extensive and thoughtfully compiled.

Gardening tasks for September: seasonally adjusted for the drought of 2015!

Trees and shrubs:

  • Prune out any dead or diseased branches as well as any unwanted suckers.
  • Do not fertilize. Any new growth at this point will not be winter hardy.

Perennials and annuals:

  • Plants are going into dormancy early this year. You’ll notice a lot of brown, crispy leaves on your trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. This is NO time to fertilize! Fertilizer will stimulate growth on already weakened plants, plus any new growth at this time of year will not be winter hardy!
  • Autumn is typically a good time to plant and transplant, but I’d wait to move/add anything until its cooled down and we’ve gotten more rain.
  • Keep weeding! Winter annuals like bittercress, chickweed, and bedstraw are germinating now. Mulch over them or pull them out.
  • Start to cut back your perennials, especially the ones that are flagging. Leave seedheads up. Finches are particularly partial to coneflowers.
  • Start to assess your garden’s strengths and weaknesses: what did well, what would you like removed (but save your edits for our spring plant sale! Tag them now so you know where they are!)
  • Start planning for spring bulbs that you can plant next month.
  • If you’re planning to install a new bed, start now by placing newspaper or cardboard over the area to kill the grass and weeds currently covering the spot.
  • If your summer bulbs (dahlias, cannas) are flagging, dig them up, clean them, and store in a cool, dry place
  • Re-edge your beds.
  • Rework your containers for fall interest and temperatures by adding pansies, snapdragons, asters, mums, etc…
  • Raise mowing height to 2 ½”
  • Add compost to your garden beds to improve soil quality