Tag Archives: fall

Be a Smarty Plants

Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what their word of advice would be for someone new to gardening and just starting out. Many offered some well rooted advice to mulch or water or be open to change. Having a vision, a good foundation of organic soil and to start small were other popular words of well grounded wisdom. One of my Facebook friends suggested that frozen berries in wine was a good pain reliever. Another suggested buying Motrin along with a lot of plants. Those who had thrown in the “trowel” suggested the new gardener give up before their backs and hips, have a drink and hire someone to do it for them. I liked the fact some felt variety was important and that gardening is good therapy.
In the spirit of turnabout is fair play, I asked myself the question. If left with suggesting one thing, I would recommend that a “smarty plants” invests time in their garden in September and October. Along with great deals on plants, the fall climate is perfect for plant establishment. In fall the soil cools down after a hot summer but is still warm and rainfall is more plentiful. Plants put in the ground focus on root establishment instead of top growth. Plants put in the ground in fall are well rooted and take off quicker in spring. This applies to woody landscape plants, trees, perennials, bulbs and even annuals like pansies. Frost tolerant pansies provide color in fall and then overwinter under the snow to outperform spring planted pansies the following spring.

These Pansies are waking up in spring after their winter nap. We're beautiful in the fall and now doing it again!

These Pansies are waking up in spring after their winter nap. We’re beautiful in the fall and now doing it again!

The weather in fall is enjoyable for yard work, even mundane work such as the lawn. Feeding your lawn in fall is important to develop a thick well rooted lawn. Grass seed grows well in the fall for patching or starting a new lawn, September is arguably the best month of the year to start a lawn in Michigan. And when it comes to weeds, well “weed” need to talk. Perennial weeds send their food reserves to the roots in fall just like the trees. If you apply weed killer you’re getting good translocation of the herbicide into the roots instead of just top kill. Also many annual weeds like Henbit germinate in the fall to become rampant and blooming in the spring. Fall applications of weed control keep these weeds from becoming a problem in spring.
If you “plant”-asize about gorgeous flowers in spring, September is the perfect month to plant flowering bulbs. It can be as easy as dig, drop, done. Bulb selections go way beyond tulips with many of the “minor bulbs” like Scilla, Fritillaria and Alliums or Dutch Iris to name a few. Planted in a well drained soil these miracle orbs will pop up and surprise you next spring.

These fall planted Pansies are reblooming in spring with the Pink Tulips that were planted at the same time.

These fall planted Pansies are reblooming in spring with the Pink Tulips that were planted at the same time.

September planted Mums provide brilliant fall color. Mum-Ma-Mia! Hardy Mums and Asters can be displayed in pots for fall color and then if planted in the ground before winter with a light mulch covering should come back next year.
Be a “smarty plants” and make a date with your yard and garden this September.


Take me to your “Weeder”

Fall is a fantastic time to control weeds in your lawn. If you struggle with weeds like dandelions in spring, now is the time to spot spray the weeds in your lawn. Pick a sunny day where we’re not going to get rain for 24 hours and take me to your “weeder”. Weeds are vulnerable in fall because they are storing carbohydrates in their root system and so are more susceptible to herbicide applications. Applying controls now does 3 things. 1) Effectively “translocates” the kill into the roots, not just the top, as the weed moves food reserves and the herbicide into the roots. 2) Controls winter annual weeds so they are not a blooming seeding pest next spring. 3) Reduces the number of broadleaf weeds you would have to battle next spring giving the lawn a competitive edge.

Pumpkin Smash 2012

Fall officially arrived at 10:49 AM on Saturday September 22 with the fall equinox. After a hot dry summer I think a lot of people are ready for some cool fall weather. We decided to celebrate with Pumpkin Smash 2012. After this summer’s drought it seemed appropriate considering a pumpkin is 80% to 90% water. We rang in the fall season similar to the New Year’s Eve ball drop by dropping a giant pumpkin on it’s gourd to celebrate the moment!

Countdown to smash

Pumpkin Smash 2012

Flowerland Show on the Air

Preparing for the drop

Doug prepares to drop George the Pumpkin

Action shot just before impact!

Pumpkin smashed

Fall has arrived










“Plant” ahead

Looking to create some new planting beds or landscape area in your yard? To avoid the back breaking work of digging up sod, or having to spray weeds, or having to rent a sod cutter, try this…..

Easy bed preparation using black plastic to “solarize” existing turf and weeds

The black plastic is pinned down with landscape fabric pins and the heat of the sun “solarizes” or cooks the vegetation growing below it. Leave the black plastic on for about a month. When the leaves start falling off the trees in October pull up the plastic. The turf and weeds below will be dead. Cover the area in leaves and till the soil. You now have a new landscape bed ready for landscaping. October and November are a great time to plant and come next spring you’ll be glad you’re so smart.

Green Thumb

The heat and drought of this summer are hopefully past and now we enter one of the best times of the year to yard and garden! I know you work “yard” for the money. Late August through October is the perfect time to “grow” get em and re-establish “lawn” and order in your landscape. It’s a great time for both plants and people. You’ll have a green thumb by both improving your odds of success in the yard and from the currency you’ll save by being smart and investing in your “hort”-folio. Here are 5 reasons why with a bonus comment to boot!

1) Feeding. We’ve been pouring on the water during heat and drought to keep our lawns alive. August to October is a great and efficient time to feed your lawn because it will thicken your lawn and improve density. Lots of root establishment occurs in fall. You’ll be miles ahead next spring by pampering your lawn a little this fall.
2) Fall is for planting. Late August to October is the perfect time to plant in Michigan. You can generally find deals and discounts for plant material. In addition fall planted landscape plants put their energy into establishment and root growth….not into top growth. You will be further ahead next spring with a plant that has rooted itself in your garden and is ready to go.
3) Seeding. Grass seed is relatively inexpensive. You can repair bare spots, seed a new lawn, or overseed an existing lawn by buying bulk grass seed and doing it yourself. The best time of the year to seed and establish turf in West Michigan is between late August and October.
4) After the heat and drought of summer you need some instant color to rejuvenate your landscape and patio planters. Consider Mums, Ornamental grasses and Pansies. Mums are perennials giving you beautiful color this fall and will come back again next year, so will ornamental grasses. You’ll get more than just the fall season with them. Pansies can be planted for fall color and they will survive under the cover of this winter’s snow to bloom again next spring! You’ll get more than one season for the money.
5) Split your plants! If you want to divide or move plants August-October is a great time to do so! From Peonies to Iris……Daylilies to Hostas you can double your money by digging and dividing and two or three for the price of one!
One final note to our list……Exercise! Late August to October after the heat and drought of this past summer is a perfect time for people too! You can save on your club membership and get fresh air and exercise outdoors. It’s a perfect time for people and plants!

(But don’t be surprised if I come running through your neighborhood to supplement my yard and garden workouts)

Crop-tober……..a great time to be outdoors!

It’s that time of the year……a great time to be outdoors getting exercise, fresh air and taking in the sights all around us. I call it “Crop-tober” because we harvest a dazzling visual crop of color. As I mentioned before I believe this year we are set up for fabulous color…….and the first week of October is lighting the candle here in West Michigan with sunny days and cool nights. Sunny days and cool nights helps add the “reds” and “rusts” we’re looking for to add to the mix of the reliable yellows and oranges. Let’s light it up and enjoy this year’s “crop” of fall color!

Fall Color

I love the color provided by a beautiful introvert in the fall landscape. With all the spectacular color provided by the trees, the Autumn Crocus is content to be an obscure bulb-like plant (actually a “corm” in the Lily family) that is misunderstood and unknown by a lot of people.

Autumn Crocus

Blooming in Fall without foliage (foliage appears in Spring) this flower has a long history of use in medicine and goes by many names including Meadow Saffron, Wonder Bulb, Colchicum and Naked Ladies. Plant some this Fall!

In regards to Fall color produced by the trees I have a feeling this October will be great for those of us in southwest Michigan. Here in southwest Michigan we’ve had plenty of rainfall all season long. That combined with the promise of sunny days and cool nights as we start October will set us up for a spectacular color show in my opinion.

Fall Color

Look for those sunny days and cool nights which help add the “reds” to the dependable oranges and yellows we see in fall. I overheard someone saying that Fall without colorful leaves is like life without music or art!