Fall Chores in the Garden

* Continue to water outdoor plants as needed until the ground freezes (usually in December). Container evergreens should be watered if the soil becomes unfrozen and approaches dryness during the winter.

* After the first killing frost, usually in late October or early November, cut back non-gray perennials to ground to prevent them from seeding, discourage disease development and tidy the garden. Marking them with golf tees will help you know where they are next spring.

* Clean up the vegetable garden and annual beds to eliminate hiding places for insects and all garden pests.

* Thoroughly rake your lawn for the same reasons. Leaf cover will smother the lawn and retard spring growth. Use a low setting for the last mowing. Fertilize your lawn early December.

* Bring tender bulbs indoors after the first frost. Store in a cool (40-55 degrees), dry environment and replant your Dahlias, Freesias, Gladiolas, Cannas and Caladiums next Memorial Day.

* If the ground becomes frozen 2" deep, apply a layer of straw or evergreen boughs around your perennials.

* Spray Wilt Pruf thoroughly on evergreens to prevent excessive winter moisture loss. Repeat on a warm day in February. Boxwoods, Hollies and Rhododendrons can also be "fenced-off" in burlap.

* For questions on winter care of roses, you can find that information on our blog. www.mcardles.com/blog

* Purchase fall bulbs early for the best selection. Store bulbs in a cool and dry location until you plant them.

* Bulbs can be planted beginning in September. This is early enough so that they will form a good root system and late enough so they don't begin to sprout if we experience a warm fall.

* Always plant bulbs at the proper depth in relation to the size of the bulb. The bigger the bulb, the deeper it should be planted. Stop by our Garden Shop for a free Bulb Planting Guide that will give you suggestions for planting depth and spacing.

* Protect your bulbs from rodent damage (bulbs other than daffodils, that is) by soaking them with Bobbex. Let them dry before planting. Further protect your bulbs from insect damage or rotting by dusting them with a bulb dust prior to planting. Fertilize fall bulbs when planting them. This gets them off to a good start and will help to prolong their longevity. If rodents have been a problem, avoid using fertilizers with bone meal in them. Try Holland Bulb Booster instead.

* If deer and rabbits are a constant threat to your bulbs, use Daffodil, Fritillaria, Allium, Chionodoxa, Eranthis, Galanthus, Hyacinth, Muscari, Scilla or Puschkinia.

* For a casual effect, plant bulbs in large clumps of uneven numbers. Water your bulb bed thoroughly after planting.

* September through mid-October is an ideal time to plant because:

Shrubs can grow just roots instead of flowers and foliage. Root growth slows when top growth begins.

Plants use less water in the fall so irrigation is not as critical (but still necessary).

Plants tend to establish well in advance of next summer's heat so that adverse weather has less impact.

Better bloom and foliage display in the spring results from stronger roots.

Planting in the fall frees up time in the spring to clean up and enjoy the burst of bloom.

Container plants are particularly well adapted to fall planting.

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