Cool breezes and colored leaves now rustle across manicured lawns and remnants of carefully tended gardens.
Before plunging temperatures, snow and ice make it impossible, a bit of work outside assures Mother Nature’s glories will blossom again next spring.
Dead leaves add terrific organic matter to lawns, vegetable gardens and composite piles. Some choose to run a mower across to chop up the bits for quicker decomposition.
Four to six weeks prior to freezing temps reseed the lawn's bare spots.
Admittedly, a grubby job, ridding your lawn of grubs is a necessary fall landscaping task before they burrow deep in the ground for a cold weather feast on grass roots.
Grub patches appear as brown patches. Digging will expose them. Using insecticides will kill not only the grubs but also birds and any creature liking grubs as grub.
Instead try organic treatments like spraying neem oil or adding a powder of ground Milky Spore (Bacillus popilliae) to the grass. Grubs slither through the treated grass, vomit themselves to extinction, and whatever dines upon their carcass has no ill effect.
A word of caution before spraying neem oil is to spray a single leaf and wait 24 hours. With the dual ability to act as an insecticide and fungicide killing an entire landscaping scheme could occur without this test.
Assure a vibrant spring, tinged in yellows, red and pale pinks among other hues, by planting bulbs in clusters and pointy side up - now when the earth is cool. If you forget, nature has a way of righting things underground during the winter.
When looking for new places to enjoy the beauty of tulips and daffodils, to scillas, crocus and hyacinths keep in mind the old Dutch saying, "bulbs don't like wet feet.” Plant them in well-drained and sunny areas taking into account the absence of leaves on springtime trees.
For fuller floral displays, sow bulbs in clusters and with consideration to their full-grown height. Think of butter-colored tulip heads dancing over masses of purple crocus.
Since squirrels and other uninvited guests sometimes unearth bulbs for a winter nibble, consider planting more.
Hardy mums, as their name implies, last several seasons. Use them as focal points or accents in autumnal planter displays with ornamental kales, pansies, or peppers. Many last until through the first few snowfalls.
Geraniums lush in summertime with multi-colored blooms are easy to keep through the winter. After the first frost, clip back the foliage to 4" and unearth the plant. Place it into a paper or burlap bag and hang up in a cool garage or garden shed. Once a month soak the roots in water for several minutes. Come spring place the withered looking plant in a sunny drenched location, in or out of a container, and within weeks new growth will appear.
The return on an investment now in gardening care comes with the first bud of green next year.