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"A Few Important Things To Do This Month," by the Whistling Gardener

Fall is in the air! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and the sun is moving farther south, creating longer shadows on the north side of the garden. These climatological events are triggers for the garden, to let it know that winter is coming, and seasoned gardeners will respond accordingly.
September chores in Steve Smith’s garden. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Fall is in the air! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and the sun is moving farther south, creating longer shadows on the north side of the garden.

These climatological events are triggers for the garden, to let it know that winter is coming, and seasoned gardeners will respond accordingly.

Here are some things they will be doing this month, that you should do as well…

De-stress your trees and shrubs: For starters, I would recommend spending a few bucks on your water bill and consider soaking the heck out of your yard right now instead of waiting until the fall rains come. Despite a wet June and a few showers in July and August, our soils are bone dry and a good soaking now around trees and shrubs will help them prepare for winter, along with potentially extending their fall colors.  

Restoring the lawn: Warm days and cool nights are the ideal recipe for grass seed to germinate and this month is the perfect time to resurrect an existing lawn or to plant a new one. Grass seed can germinate in as little as five to seven days, when it is in the 70’s during the day and 50’s at night. If you wait until October or later, it is almost impossible to get a new lawn established.

Controlling weeds: Most of the weeds that we end up fighting in the spring are germinating this month, although you might not even notice them. By cleaning the garden beds and covering them with a fresh one-inch layer of mulch, you can eliminate 98% of your spring weeding chores and improve the quality of your soil at the same time. You know how the expression goes: “Give a weed an inch and it will take a yard.” 

Re-planting containers: I know the tendency is to milk our summer pots for every last bloom we can coax out of them, but the longer we wait to replant them the harder it is to get those new treasures to root in and get established. As nice as some of my containers still look, the fact is that I am kind of tired of them and ready for a change. There is always something refreshing and healing to the soul when I change out my pots for the season. And just so you know, there are a ton of different kinds of plants to choose from that are perfectly hardy for our winters. Check out the options at the garden center this month, you might be amazed.

Bulbs: I know this sounds crazy, but we receive our spring blooming bulbs this month and the early bird gets the best selection. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and the lot are all available for planting this month. While it is true that I have planted bulbs as late as December 31st, I wouldn’t recommend it. For best results, now is the time to plant them! And remember, you can bury a few under your fall container plantings for a surprise or two come spring.

Dividing Perennials: If you have large clumps of daylilies, shasta daisies, peonies, iris, or any spring or summer blooming perennial, you can cut off hunks to either spread around the yard or to share with friends. Just be sure to use some good organic transplanter fertilizer when you replant them, along with a shovelful of compost.

September can be a very active month in the garden. Don’t miss these opportunities to improve your landscape, keep it healthy, and actually save yourself work come springtime. Stay healthy and keep on gardening!

Sunnyside will be hosting our next free online class, "Festive Fall Containers," on Saturday, September 19th, 2020, at 10:00 am. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net/classes.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

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