As fall approaches us here in West Michigan, there are a few jobs that you can do now to keep your gardens nice and tidy through the winter months and hopefully make spring a little less hectic. First, grab your garden journal and take a walk around your garden making notes of your favorite performers and adding them to a list of seeds or plants to purchase for next year. Also, note the under-per-formers or plants that just didn't meet your expectations. Plan to harvest your own seeds from your garden. This is an exciting and rewarding task, and you'll be grateful that you did when it comes to next year's garden. Make some notes in yourgarden journal about the weather and how it impacted your gardenthis year. Also, jot down what pests were a problem for you this year and when they popped up. Make a list of the spring flower bulbs you'd like to plant this fall and stop by Horrocks Garden Center to purchase, as they go fast. Consider what new perennials, shrubs or trees you'd like to add to your landscape. Early fall is an excellent time for planting.
As your summer garden begins to die back, consider ways to add color and draw beneficial insects to your fall garden by planting asters, mums, pansies and anemones. Update your summer containers for fall by removing the spent summer annuals and replacing them with coral bells, mums, ornamental cabbage, purple millet, pansies and variegated ivy. Add some cornstalks and small pumpkins for an extra pop of fun.
Assess your yard and garden for anything that needs repair or change. Does a fence need repair? Would you like to start a compost area? Would you like to build raised beds, climbing structures or add fencing to your vegetable garden? Write down any materials that you might need for these projects.
Fall mulching is very beneficial for Zones 4-5 for several rea-sons. Mulch stomps outtho se fall weeds and helps retain moisture during bouts of drier weather. Mulching insulates bulbs and perennial root systems for the upcoming cold weather and prevents soil erosion from heavy rains, winds, and storms. Mulch-ing roses will protect their bud union. Also, protect boxwoods and other evergreens from deer and harsh winter wind damage by spraying with wilt stop and wrapping with burlap.
Late summer watering is vital to help new perennials and trees establish their root systems and stay adequately hydrated going into the winter months. Annuals on the other hand, are slowing down and cooler temperatures mean they don't need as much water as they did during the peak of summer.
Stop fertilizing trees and shrubs if you haven't done so already. Cooler weather is approaching and new growth established from fertilization can cause those limbs to be susceptible to dam-age. Do allow some seed heads to remain on plants for birds to feed on and for seed collection.
Fall is also a greattimeto divide perennial plants like hostas, day-lilies, black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, etc. Stop in and see us at Horrocks Garden Center in Ionia. Check out our events page on our website for fall events such as the Cornmaze dates and times and upcoming holiday events. Go to horrocksnursery.com for more information.