With the warm summer weather in the rearview mirror, the cooler temperatures of October is the perfect time to perform all of those outdoor chores that need to be done before winter arrives.
Add Fall Color
By planting mums either in your landscaping or in planters, you add instant color. Mums are available in a rainbow of colors and are easy to care for. Include pumpkins and hay bales to create an even more beautiful setting.
Plant A Tree
While the soil is still warm and workable, now is a great time to plant a tree. Trees are beginning their dormancy phase and energy is being focused on root development in preparation for performance next spring.
Dividing perennials can rejuvenate them resulting in more blooms. By dividing them in the fall rather than in the spring, plants have more time to set new roots before growing in the heat. Sharing and trading with other gardeners makes this even more fun. Cut back spent tops on many perennials, but leave seed heads on grasses etc., as they provide important food and shelter for birds.
Create A Compost Bin
Rather than dispose of leaves that accumulate in your yard, designate an area to be used for composting that will result in valuable, a plant-loving nutrient based matter known as “black gold”. Like anything you put into a compost pile – leaves benefit greatly from being shredded first. Whole leaves won’t compost quickly if left on the ground and especially in piles where they can bind together and become a soggy matted mess.
By adding a layer of mulch to your beds and around trees, you are providing not only a “blanket” of protection, you also help keep moisture around your plants during dry periods. This will also help minimize weed growth in the spring.
Winterize Fountains & Bird Baths
If left outdoors during freezing temperatures, concrete can retain water and crack when temperatures get warmer. If the fountain is small enough you should empty it and store it in the garage or a shed. If your fountain is too large to move you should empty all of the water, remove the pump, and cover the fountain with plastic. The same applies to concrete, glass and clay based bird baths.
Fall is the time to plant spring and summer blooming bulbs. Daffodil, hyacinth, crocus and iris are good choices because they come back year after year. If you have a problem with deer dining on your plants, avoid planting tulip bulbs unless you are planning on spraying tender foliage and blooms with deer spray.
Don’t Forget The Birds
Songbirds require a substantial amount of energy to survive the harsh winter months. By offering seed that is high in oil, such as black oil sunflower seed, or placing a suet feeder in your yard with nutritious suet, you can help provide the energy needed for survival. Add a heated bird bath so birds have a source of fresh water all winter-long. Remember to keep your hummingbird feeders full until two weeks after you’ve seen the last hummingbird. They need the extra energy to survive their long migration south. Fall is also a great time to plant berry-producing trees and shrubs that not only provide food for birds but also provide shelter.
Perform Tool Maintenance
Once you have completed your fall checklist, clean your garden tools so they are ready for next spring. Wipe away excess dirt from trowels, spades, shovels and other garden tools and rub them with multi-purpose oil to prevent rust. Sharpen your pruners, spades and shovels so they are ready to perform next year’s tasks. Remove garden hoses from the spicket in order to prevent freezing pipes and store them in a dry location.