September Gardening Tips

September Gardening Tips

Monthly task lists help to grow and maintain your gardens, indoors and out.

Scan these tips from gardening expert, Melinda Myers, and follow those that apply to your particular landscape to help increase your success while making gardening easier, less stressful and fun. 

• Fall involves raking, planting and preparing for the season ahead. Look for ergonomic tools that allow you to work longer and avoid injury from repetitive motion.

• Get busy now planting a bit of beauty and color for next spring’s garden. Plant bulbs 2 to 3 times their vertical height deep. Try mixing several bulbs together to double your enjoyment. I like mixing yellow daffodils with blue squills for a rich combination. Or, how about some early blooming crocus mixed with some late blooming tulips.

• Make it beautiful and edible, fall garden containers, that is. Bright Lights, Ruby Red and many other Swiss chard cultivars have colorful stems to brighten any fall combination.

• Evergreen needles don't make the soil too acidic. They do, however, add organic matter and nutrients to the soil as they break down. And a look under your evergreens confirms they're a great mulch. The lack of plants and weeds growing under evergreens is due to the lack of light, limited soil moisture and the weed suppressing needle mulch.

• Give your lawn a boost by core aerating away problems like compacted soil and thatch. Identify a thatch problem by using a knife to dig into the sod and check for the brown layer of partially decomposed grass known as thatch. If it is more than ½ inch thick it is time to core aerate.

• Fall is a great time to plant trees. Insure the health and longevity of your trees when planting by making sure the root flare, the place where the roots flare away from the trunk, is at or slightly above the soil surface. Dig the planting hole the same depth as the distance between the root flare and bottom of the root ball. Digging deeper can result in the soil settling and creating a water collecting depression around your tree. Make the hole at least 3 to 5 times wider than the root ball. Roughen the sides of the planting hole to avoid glazed soil that can prevent roots from growing into the surrounding soil. Remove burlap and wire baskets that can interfere with rooting and eventually girdle the roots.

• Black and orange bugs congregated on the sunny side of your house in fall are likely boxelder bugs. They are not harmful to plants and people, but certainly are annoying.

• Looking for an easy to grow houseplant? Try the low maintenance uniquely shaped ZZ plant. This easy-care plant is also known as zulu, fat boy and eternity plant. An East African native it has adapted to periods of rain and drought making it a great houseplant. It prefers bright light but will tolerate low light and dry soil.

• The beautiful bright yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia are often overshadowed by the diseased foliage. Reduce the risk of this disease by providing adequate light and air circulation around the plants. Use a soaker hose or watering wand to apply water directly to the soil when needed. In fall remove and destroy all diseased plant parts.

• Falling leaves make a great mulch in the woods, but can spell death for groundcovers and the lawn. Make clean up easy for you and good for the environment. Lightly rake leaves off groundcovers and perennials. Or try this technique. Cover plantings with netting to catch the falling leaves. Drag it off or roll it up to keep the leaves in place as you clear the planting. Then add the leaves to the compost pile.

• Fertilize your lawn in early September to encourage healthy growth that is better able to out compete the weeds.

• Harvest apples when the indentation by the stem turns from green to yellow. The fruit should twist off the branch easily.

• Plant garlic cloves in mid to late September. The plants will send down roots, receive the needed chill to set bulbs and will be ready for harvest the end of next summer.

• Check tree trunks for gypsy moth egg masses. The eggs are covered with a yellow hairy substance. Remove and destroy egg masses as they are found.

• Keep watering as needed. Make new plantings, evergreens and moisture loving plants a priority.

• Evaluate your landscape for fall interest. Consider adding some ornamental grasses, fall blooming perennials and trees and shrubs with colorful fall foliage or fruit. Fall is a great time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials.

• Dig and divide spring blooming perennials that have outgrown their location, failed to flower, flop open or died out in the center.

• Pasquesi Home and Gardens center if filled with pansies, ornamental kale and other fall annuals. These plants tolerate the cool fall temperatures and extend your garden enjoyment even after frost.

• Apply frost protection in late afternoon when danger of frost is forecast. Or cover plants with floating row covers. These can be left in place day and night until the danger of frost has passed.

• Now’s the time to start purchasing spring flowering bulbs. Select healthy bulbs with a strong growing tip. They should be full size, firm and free from signs of insects and disease. Shop early for a greater selection of varieties and healthier bulbs. Buy some extra bulbs for forcing.

• Animals are the biggest pests to spring flowering bulbs. Squirrels love to dig freshly planted bulbs, voles like to eat the bulbs in winter, while rabbits and deer wait until spring to munch the flowers and leaves. Commercial repellents may provide some relief. Apply them as soon as there is potential for damage. Try planting daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops and winter aconites that tend to be resistant to animal damage.

• Add short-season and frost-tolerant plants to the vegetable garden. You can still plant lettuce, greens, spinach and onion sets. Try growing them in containers that can be moved in and out according to the weather. Or have some frost protection handy for covering plants on frosty nights to extend the harvest season.

• You may need to invest in artificial lights if your houseplant collection or those plants moved indoors for the winter have outgrown the available window space.

• Whether you’re renovating an existing lawn, starting a new one or just patching bare spots, early to mid September is the best time to plant grass seed.

• Fall is the best time to control perennial weeds in the lawn. The chemicals are usually more effective and the actively growing grass will quickly fill in the empty spaces.

• Remove plants with rotting roots and stems. Amend the soil to improve drainage, adjust watering and replace with a plant more suited to the location.

• Hardy shrub and landscape roses can still be planted. Make sure they get proper post-planting care. This will help reduce transplant shock and speed up establishment.

• Continue watering new and established plantings throughout the fall. The cooler temperatures mean less frequent watering. Check the top 6 inches of soil and water thoroughly as it begins to dry. Water early in the day to reduce the risk of disease and the amount of water lost to evaporation. Consider using a watering wand or drip irrigation system to keep the water off the plants and on the soil where it is needed.

• Select vines and groundcovers for fall interest. Many provide fruit, flowers and colorful foliage as a grand finale to the growing season.

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s monthly gardening tips with you!