With autumn on the way, it’s time to prepare for the fall planting season. Learn how to help your garden transition from summer to fall with these simple tips.
As the summer heat drones on, my garden plants have seen better days. Perennials are fading and toppling over.
Some are overgrown and spilling onto the walkway.
And since it has cooled down enough to do some small tasks in the gardens, I’m ready to get back at it!
Follow these easy tips to prepare your gardens for fall planting season!
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Preparing for a Successful Fall Planting Season
As the vibrant days of summer start to wane and the crispness of fall fills the air, it’s time to shift gears in your garden. The changing seasons bring new opportunities and challenges for gardening enthusiasts.
Transitioning your garden from the warmth of summer to the cooler embrace of fall requires thoughtful planning and preparation.
Today, I’ll guide you through some important steps to ensure your garden thrives during the fall planting season.
Here’s what you need to do.
Assess Your Summer Garden
Remove any diseased or spent plants to make room for new fall garden flowers. This assessment will give you a clear canvas to work with and prevent the spread of diseases into the fall season.
Plan Your Fall Garden Layout
Decide what you want to grow in your fall garden. If you are growing your own food, fall is an excellent time for a variety of crops, including cool-season vegetables like broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and spinach.
Be sure to include some companion plants to help minimize pest and disease problems. You’d be surprised how well they work when done well.
Consider adding some fall-flowering plants to maintain color and attract pollinators. Sketch out a garden layout that takes into account the mature sizes of the plants, ensuring they have enough space to grow without overcrowding.
Sow Cool Season Vegetables
As we move through August, sow seeds so you have a cool season harvest of fresh vegetables in your home garden.
Healthy soil is the foundation of a successful garden. And fall is a great time to make improvements.
Adding a layer of mulch will help retain soil moisture, regulate temperature, and prevent weed growth.
Choose the Right Plants
Selecting the right plants for your fall garden is crucial. Opt for native plants and varieties that are well-suited to your climate and the amount of sunlight available.
Research the specific planting requirements of each plant to ensure they receive the proper care.
Deadheading and Cutting Back Perennials
I started deadheading spent flowers and cutting back overgrown perennials.
While still flowering, my purple coneflowers are fading to a soft, beigey-pink and falling over on top of other plants.
My hosta flowers are wrapping up their blooms. So I cut some of those back and kept the ones that still look pretty good and offer nectar to the pollinators.
At this point, my Catmint is so overgrown that I sheared it back about halfway to get another set of blooms before the growing season winds down.
There are a few other plants I started cleaning up and cutting back to neaten up the gardens’ appearance, but overall, the work is pretty light.
Yes, it’s still important to keep up on the weeds. The weeds continue to grow and get pulled. It is a lot of work to manage all the beds, but I do what I can when I can when I can do it.
Truth be told, I enjoy sitting out there in the fresh air, listening to some good tunes, and pulling weeds.
It’s very peaceful and I don’t mind doing it when the temps are not in excess of 80 degrees.
When divinging plants in the fall, be mindful of the shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures.
Fall weather can be unpredictable, with periods of rain followed by dry spells. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Monitor the moisture level of the soil and water as needed, aiming for consistent moisture without overwatering.
Consider using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the plant roots.
Pests can still be active in the fall, so remain vigilant. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pest damage, and take prompt action if needed.
Deer will still be a problem, so keep up with the repellent sprays if you use them as much as I do.
This is the usually the time of year I start focusing on controlling the Japanese beetle population. Apply milky spore to your lawn using this applicator.
And consider whether you should change your lawn over to tall fescue to help minimize grubs that eventually mature to the beetles that destroy plants in summer.
Extend the Growing Season
As temperatures drop further into fall, you can extend the growing season by using cold frames, cloches, or row covers.
These protective structures help create a microclimate that’s warmer than the surrounding environment, allowing you to grow plants for a longer period.
Start buying them now or you can DIY your own so you are ready to protect your flowers and vegetables.
Many fall crops can be harvested multiple times. For example, leafy greens can be harvested by picking the outer leaves while allowing the inner ones to continue growing.
Regular harvesting not only provides you with fresh produce but also encourages the plants to keep producing.
Last Feed for the Roses Before Fall Gardening Begins
My roses will get fed one more time before the season ends.
One feeding lasts about six weeks, so that should keep them blooming through October.
It is important to stop feeding them after this last one because we want to encourage them to go dormant in preparation for winter.
Look for Inspiration for Fall Plants and Flowers
Now that fall is approaching, I will start visiting the garden nursery to see what’s out and pick up some fall color.
It is also a great time to start thinking about adding new perennials, shrubs, and/or trees to the gardens. Fall is a great time to plant and nurseries start selling their stock off at a discount in October.
Hold Off Buying Chrysanthemums Before Fall Gardening Begins
I’m going to say this now before you all see them at the nurseries, farm stands, and markets.
DO NOT BUY CHRYSANTHEMUMS TOO EARLY.
And too early is August and early September.
For a multitude of reasons, resist the urge to buy them when you see them come out, particularly if it is still really hot where you live and garden.
Garden mums are not bred to last long and don’t do well in the heat, so it’s not worth purchasing them before you really need them.
What Do You Think?
How is your garden doing this year?
When I look back at this garden, it is amazing how much it changed over the years.
To see what it looked like before I moved, you can see the 2021 recap of how my garden grew here.
And if you want to see what my new gardens look like now, you can check out this post where we tour my early summer garden.
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Happy planting – enjoy your day! xo
Follow My Weekly Garden Tour
I hope you enjoyed this week’s garden tour and appreciate you joining me!
If you missed a few tours or want to see how the garden has progressed during the 2019 growing season, you can see them here:
- 10 Gorgeous Bulbs and Early Spring Perennial Ideas
- Cool Season Vegetables and Spring Flowers
- Growth, Change and Everblooming Design
- Growth and Transition in the Spring Garden
- Container Gardens and Outdoor Living Spaces
- Adding Color with Annuals
- The Importance of a Tidy Border
- How to Create a Hummingbird Garden
- Spring to Summer Transition
- Summer Perennials, Pest and Disease Control
- Summer Gardening and Patriotic Decor
- Caring for Gardens While On Vacation
- How to Create a Butterfly Garden
- Midsummer Flowers
- Summer to Fall Transition in the Garden
- Tidying Up the Late Summer Flower Garden
- 3 Ways to Prepare the Flower Garden for Fall Plantings (You are here)
- Best Plant for the Fall Garden
- Fall Garden Tip that Will Save You Money
- Easy Fall Garden Maintenance Tip
Come Tour My 2019 Gardens
In 2019, I shared a weekly garden tour of the beds. Wait until you see how different they looked! I love to look back and see how much my garden style has changed.
While we walk around the gardens this week, I’ll talk about some of the changes I made to prepare for fall gardening.
The gardens look so good after cleaning them up!
I spent some time deadheading and cutting plants back and they look so much better.
Front Yard Cottage Garden
I probably spent the most time in this bed because there was a lot of work to do.
While the Echinacea is still flowering, it was falling over and crowding some of the other plants.
I could have propped them up with a stake but opted to cut them back instead.
There are a few that are showing signs of putting out more blooms, so I cut those back a little to encourage the flowers.
Overall, I love how this garden looks and can’t wait to tuck in some fall color!
The mailbox garden got a little facelift this week.
We replaced the old white mailbox that was falling apart with this pretty oil rubbed bronze one. It looks so much better!
I cut the Daylillies back that flank the Sedum.
The foliage was not looking good anymore and I wanted to make some room for some fall plants.
As an aside, I’m really happy that I chose to plant yellow Marigolds, Purple Petunias and Euphorbia annuals in the gardens this year because they were a really fun plant combination.
They not only added spring color but are doing double duty with fall color as well!
The shining star of the well garden is Caryopteris.
In case you are not familiar, it is a very pretty late summer blue-flowering shrub.
The bees love it and I love how it looks next to the Zebra Grass and Smoketree.
Callicarpa is growing its berries after flowering.
I love the soft arching branches of this shrub.
And the foliage is starting to change to a chartreuse color too.
Side Yard Garden
The woodland garden on the side of my house is looking better than it ever has.
This used to be the last garden I would get to work in.
But now that my kids are getting older, I have a little more time to spend in my gardens again.
There are a lot less weeds now!
Oak Leaf Hydrangea’s foliage is starting to turn orange, Cranesbill is getting a yellowish hue, Sumac brightens up the back of the border with its chartreuse foliage and Joe Pye Weed is still doing its thing!
I love how this garden coordinates with the backyard border.
It looks so pretty!
Joe Pye is flanked by Cranesbill and Sumac is just behind it (this is not the poisonous or invasive Sumac).
Notice the foliage on Cranesbill is starting to change from green to chartreuse with some yellow and red tones.
Although it is no longer blooming, the change in foliage color will add fall color to this border.
As much as I love Hydrangea blooms, I grow Oak Leaf Hydrangea for the fall foliage color.
Eventually, these leaves will turn crimson red.
The backyard gardens look incredible right now.
It’s amazing how much these borders have changed over the last few weeks!
I don’t usually show this view, but my berry garden is to the right and the shed and fire pit garden are in the background.
The backyard border looks so amazing right now!
I love how the Ornamental Grasses grew their fronds, Joe Pye is still flowering, and the Plume Poppies look like a tall ornamental grass.
That plant does not disappoint!
This might be my favorite view of the backyard border.
I’m also happy to report that my Endless Summer Hydrangea is officially blooming!
It has one gorgeous flower head on it now, but there are several others waiting in the wings…yay!
This is Joe Pye, Dark Horse Wiegela, and Plume Poppies.
Dark Horse Wiegela’s foliage has been turning to this chartreuse color.
Isn’t it so pretty?
I also love the tricolor foliage on this Leucothoe.
It adds a lot of texture and interest to the shadier part of my garden.
In the backyard garden, there is a shady section that holds several varieties of hostas.
I love to play around with foliage color to brighten up shady areas.
And I know some are not fans of their flowers, but the pollinators love them so I let them bloom all summer long.
I just planted this Butterfly Bush a few months ago and it is still blooming.
I used to have more, but they were destroyed during Super Storm Sandy a few years ago and I just never replanted until now.
The butterfly bush is one of my favorite plants that attract butterflies.
It is not unheard of to see 10-15 butterflies on one plant when it is in full bloom.
The Endless Summer Hydrangea finally got her bloom on.
Remember when I was telling you how she was struggling to bloom this year?
Deck Gardens and Outdoor Living Spaces
The deck gardens are still looking lush and beautiful.
My resident groundhog stopped by a few times but hasn’t done too much damage to the containers since we have been home from vacation.
It always amazes me how much damage it can do in a short amount of time!
There has been a lot of growth since they started summering outdoors.
They look really good and add life to the deck without spending money on more annuals!
This corner of my deck is housing Dumb Cane, Christmas Cactus, and Spider Plant.
I bring my houseplants outside where they get fresh air, light, and water.
Much like people, they enjoy a good summer vacation outside too.
My Christmas Cactus blooms a few times a year.
It is probably my favorite houseplant.
I love when it blooms, particularly when it is indoors.
Plus it is SO easy to care for.
I love this coleus!
Isn’t it so pretty?
That foliage is really something.
I wasn’t sure how it would vibe with fall, but the vibrant pink is starting to mute like some of my other plants.
I plant double-flowering impatiens every year because I love the blooms.
But they do make a mess when they drop.
So keep that in mind if you decide to care for them on your deck or patio.
My Hibiscus Standard is still blooming but even these blooms are not as vibrant as they once were in July.
I grow these yearly as an annual.
If I had a greenhouse, I’d overwinter them indoors.
But I just don’t have the room in my house with all my other houseplants.
Fire Pit Garden
I am so glad we added this fire pit area in spring.
We use it often and it looks so amazing!
This corner used to house a bunch of wood debris so this is a welcome change from what it used to look like!
To see the before and after of the fire pit area, click here.
It’s a great spot to hang with the family.
We enjoy sitting out here roasting marshmallows.
And listening to good tunes of course.
Lots of cozy nights are spent here in front of the fire!
Now that my kids are older we are considering removing the playset.
But it’s hard to part with it.
Maybe next year we’ll get around to taking it down.
Speaking of those double flowering impatiens, I love how the blooms compliment the emerging Sedum autumn joy flowers.
Isn’t that a pretty combination?
I love when a good plant combination happens that I didn’t plan.
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