Taking good care of the lawn and garden can be just as important during the late summer as it was in the spring. And, with the potential for changing temperatures and weather, what your lawn and garden needs most may be different in the late summer and early fall.
Troy-Bilt’s brand gardening expert Erin Schanen, who’s also a master garden volunteer and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog and YouTube channel, shares a number of late summer lawn and garden maintenance tips for this specific time of year, covering some of the top issues and how to prevent them.
Get the Upper Hand on Falling Leaves
For yards with light to moderate quantities of leaves to clear, you can use your mulching lawn mower to mulch fallen leaves and recycle them into compost. Mulching leaves with a mower creates beneficial mulch – that you didn’t have to purchase – for the lawn and garden too.
Many models of lawn mowers are built with the ability to finely mulch clippings, such as the TB325 XP High-Wheel Self-Propelled Lawn Mower. To do this, Schanen recommends simply mowing over the leaves a few times. The bits can then be left on the lawn or vacuumed up with a leaf blower/vacuum. Scatter the collected chopped leaves over garden beds as a form of mulch to compost leaves quickly, and help insulate and enrich beds. However, don’t allow whole leaves to remain on the lawn or on garden beds into fall and winter, as this can be harmful to grass and may also encourage the growth of fungus.
Keep on Pulling Weeds out of Your Lawn
Removing perennial weeds in the late summer and early fall is a hugely beneficial and time-saving task when it comes to spring garden prep. Removing weeds, especially those that have flowered, can help reduce weed problems in the spring by limiting their ability to drop seeds that can overwinter and germinate when the weather warms up.
Fertilize in the Fall When the Time is Right
Fertilizing your lawn in the fall is a good idea, but timing is important. You definitely don’t want to fertilize during the heat of summer when the grass has become brown and dry – even if it appears to need nutrients, which could have disastrous effects for the lawn.
Wait until the temperatures have cooled a bit and moisture has returned to the lawn. The best time to fertilize your lawn may be a day or two after a soaking rain, once the grass has dried, and in the morning or early evening, when temperatures are cooler and moisture content is higher. The autumn is also the best time to think about overseeding your lawn to help thicken up areas that may have thinned.
Cut Back Old Foliage, Selectively
Some flowering perennial plants can be cut back in the fall, helping to reduce the chance of disease, encourage new growth and help improve the look of your landscape. Examples include iris, hostas and daylilies, which can begin looking stale once their flowers have gone. Cutting the foliage back will clean up the look of these plants and may also encourage fresh growth. However, there are some perennials that should not be cut back until after their leaves have died and turned yellow or brown, such as perennials grown from bulbs (tulips and daffodils). These plants depend on the energy from this foliage to nourish next year’s blooms.
Go Ahead and Plant New Garden Annuals
The autumn is a great time to plant garden annuals and some vegetables from seed as a way to fill in holes in garden beds. Garden centers will often receive a fresh supply of annual seeds around this time of year, helping to make the process easier. Examples of popular flowering garden annuals that can thrive at this time include nasturtiums, zinnias and cosmos, all of which can be sown from seed in August. These beautiful annuals for your garden won’t mind the heat, and in September, they’ll be looking great. Herb and vegetable crops like basil, broccoli and garlic can also be planted in autumn. Basil will thrive until temperatures cool, broccoli will grow during the cooler fall temperatures, and garlic will overwinter until next spring.
Water Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs Well
Any newly planted trees and shrubs in your yard this season should head into the dog days of summer, as well as the cool days of winter, being well-watered. They’ll need the moisture now more than ever. Taking care of these new additions in their first season sets them up to survive their first winter and helps to ensure lower maintenance requirements for the years to come.