Early Fall Cleanup
Our gardens can look a bit dull and tired in early September. Summer heat is hard on most plants - and most gardeners! Now is the perfect time to renew your gardens. If you spend some extra time in your gardens, you can rejuvenate many plants and restore color and vitality that will carry on well into fall.
Begin by sprucing up perennials that have finished blooming. Some early blooming perennials such as bleeding heart, peonies and columbine may have turned brown already. If they have, just cut back the dead foliage to the ground. Remove the dried seedpods from daylilies and iris. Be sure to cut the woody stem all the way to the ground.
Remove spent flowers from summer blooming plants. Some varieties such as salvia, catmint and veronica may reward you with repeat blooming. Whack back perennial plants whose foliage has become withered and tattered. Astilbe, lady's mantle, and cranesbills are some plants that need this rejuvenation pruning to improve their appearance. Mulch around freshly groomed plants if necessary.
Repeat blooming and fall blooming plants will benefit from a light fertilization using a water-soluble fertilizer such as MiracleGro. Be sure to water these plants deeply so that they have plenty of energy to bloom profusely.
There are many beautiful fall blooming perennials such as sedums, asters, goldenrod, plumbago and ornamental grasses to name a few. Add these to bare spots in the garden for instant color.
Take time to assess each plant variety's performance in the garden and remove any varieties that you did not care for. Plants only get larger and more difficult to remove with time so it is best to evaluate their place in the garden regularly.
Fall is not a time of rejuvenation for summer blooming annuals, so remove any plants that have withered or that look spent. Continue to fertilize plants that are still blooming. Make notes of favorite varieties and combinations to have on hand for next year's plantings. Fill in gaps with fall blooming annuals such as mums, pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, dianthus and snapdragons.
As temperatures begin to cool, we'll start living in our gardens again. Give dirty sundials, birdbaths and other accents a good scrubbing. The same goes for furniture and benches. If there is peeling paint on fences or other wooden surfaces give them a fresh coat. Wash the deck or patio. Fill in bare spots in garden paths.