Award-winning landscape design, construction and maintenance company Mariani provides the following tips for transitioning your garden from summer to fall:
Know your zone: Your first step in transitioning your garden from summer to fall is to know your gardening zone. The US Department of Agriculture produces a map for gardeners based on the average of low temperature readings throughout the country, with 1 being the coldest and 13 the hottest. Your zone will determine when you should start the transition of your garden from summer to fall; Mariani finds that when temperatures are consistently dropping below 70 degrees, that’s when you’ll want to make the switch.
Think about where you want your garden to be: Ask yourself if you’re looking to stretch your display garden through the fall to the early winter or discontinue your beds until the spring. If the former, rein in overgrown areas, deadhead to promote continued flowering, stop fertilizing your plants, and switch out summer annuals with cold-tolerant options. If you’re looking to put an end to your garden for the fall and winter, let your garden continue flowering and go to seed. Deadhead as needed leaving some stems for winter interest.
Stretch your garden with the right perennials, annuals and edibles: If you’re stretching your garden, make sure you’re planting late season greens; perennials like Mums, Asters and decorative grasses like Toffee Twist Sedge make for a beautiful fall arrangement. Ornamental cabbages and kales can also add appeal to your bed and will last you through the first frost; clusters of Gourds, for example, can offer some color and texture to your garden. Some other annuals to consider adding to your beds include African Daisies, Snap Dragons, Pansies, Violas and Nasturtiums.
Keep your soil healthy: When making the switch to fall, it’s easy to forget how important it is to keep your soil healthy throughout the cooler months. Adding a layer of organic materials like composted shredded leaf mulch gives it the nutrients and consistency conducive to overall health of your plants. If you’re stretching your garden, try tilling some compost into the top several inches of soil.
Don’t forget to plan and prep for next year: Last but not least, don’t forget to plan for next spring. The right bulbs for your zone need to be planted before the ground freezes.