Late summer, early fall is an ideal season for planting, seeding and mulching since soil temperatures are still warm while air temperatures are cooling off, encouraging seeds to germinate and roots to grow.
That’s a win-win for our gardens and lawns.
Our colder nighttime temperatures signal to plants that winter’s on its way. That means plants focus their energy underground, and above-ground growth begins to slow — a combination perfect for fall planting. Protected roots keep growing, but plants limit their tender, new top growth to avoid being damaged by the cold.
This head start on root development translates to strong, robust growth come spring. Planting about six weeks before your region typically gets its first hard frost is ideal.
Cooler temperatures are good for gardeners, too. It’s much nicer to plant in cool weather than in the hot sun. After the first hard freeze, it’s a good idea to add a layer of organic mulch around newly planted plants. This helps prevent them from heaving out of the ground during cold winters.
The fall brings more predictable precipitation. Unlike soggy, unpredictable springs that keep you sidelined while soil dries, fall weather keeps gardens dry enough to stay workable. Planting in soggy soil can harm your garden’s soil structure but fall planting in workable soil removes that risk.
Consistent precipitation also means less stress on newly planted plants and less watering for you. If natural rainfall comes up short, supplement by watering so that plants stay well hydrated until the ground freezes.
Many common lawn and garden weeds are warm-season wonders that slow down or disappear in the fall. Less weeding around new plants is good for gardeners, but less competition from active weeds is even better for newly planted plants.
In spring, actively growing weeds compete aggressively for water, light and nutrients, fighting your new plantings for every ray of sunshine and every single raindrop. Fall planting lets new plants get started without weed competition. By spring, your newly established plants have a strong advantage. That’s pretty cool.
Insect pests slow down in the fall. That’s a bonus for you and your garden.
You get to plant in peace — without wasting energy swatting mosquitoes and gnats — and your new plants enjoy a reprieve from insects, too.
Bonus Growing Season
When you plant in spring, it’s not long before new plants get hit with summer stresses. About the time plants get going, so do weeds, bugs, heat and drought. That’s one reason spring-planted plants often need a full year’s growth to settle in and hit their stride.
Fall planting gives new plants a cool growing season, followed by a winter rest, and a second, strong growing season in spring — before summer arrives. With some plants, that bonus fall season is almost like gaining a year.
Get a Fresh Fall Perspective
Fall is a good time to sit back, take in your garden, and see where the holes are, what’s lacking. By planting in the fall, you get to enjoy your garden immediately and set the stage for a great spring show (without the work!).
Perennials, shrubs and trees with colorful fall foliage or bird-attracting fruit add instant beauty and draw winged visitors. Fall’s also a great time to add plants specifically for winter interest, such as colorful or unusual bark or dramatic shapes that impress with or without leaves. Your garden’s “bare bones” can provide enjoyment all winter, even when covered in snow.
By taking advantage of all the benefits of fall planting and growing, you and your new plants will reap the rewards in this season and those to come. Greenwise is here to help you design and install a fall garden that will bring you seasons of joy.