Fall Garden Tips

This week’s blog is brought to you by Philip Carter of Allium Gardens in Charlotte, NC.

Fall is slowly returning to Charlotte and like the rest of us, the plants will welcome the cooler temperatures. Here are a few fall garden tips to make your properties look stunning from now to early spring.

garden tipsFertilize The Lawn

Those with fescue lawns should be preparing to aerate, fertilize, and overseed. Make several passes with the aerator and use high quality seed. It costs a little more but is well worth the return! Use a fertilizer that has a pre-emergent in it as well. This will prevent weeds such as crabgrass and other cool season weeds that will emerge with the spring rains.

Those with seasonal lawns such as bermuda or zoysia will have already done their fertilization in mid-summer. If you must have a green lawn, overseed with rye grass. It will burn off as temps increase in the spring as the bermuda is coming out of dormancy.

Fertilize Trees & Shrubs

Fall is also a great time to fertilize shrubs and trees. All trees and shrubs need fertilizer because most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. In addition, every fall homeowners rake leaves off the beds, depriving plants of the nutrients that decomposing leaves would traditionally release. To compensate, I recommend applying one to three pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of bed and cultivate lightly. (To figure out the exact amount of fertilizer you’ll need, calculate the square footage of your beds and consult with your local garden center.) I prefer fertilizing trees in late September and early October to promote root growth. These nutrients will still be in the soil in spring when plants start to grow. If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of super phosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the super phosphate in the world won’t make it flower.

Plant Fall Annuals

Get ready for company coming in the next few months by planting fall annuals. Some common annuals that work well in this zone and have a long bloom time are listed below. Add a little  soil into the beds you are working to give your flowers a good home.

  • Violas (bloom better than pansies in my opinion)
  • Pansies
  • Snap Dragons
  • Ornamental Cabbages
  • Mums (mainly early Fall)
  • Dianthus
Plant Spring Bulbs

Fall is also the time to plant your spring bulbs. Who can resist beautiful tulips and hyacinth peeking through the ground as winter comes to a close. The smell alone is intoxicating. Remember to factor in things like dud bulbs, a few super cold days, and SQUIRRELS! Plant about 20% more bulbs than you think you need to ensure a bountiful bloom in spring.  A list of a few bulbs to consider are below.

  • Allium
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinth
  • Daffodil
  • Crocus
  • Snow Drops
  • Iris (won’t bloom till late Spring)