Planting a fall garden

6 Steps to Ensure a Successful Fall Planting

When planting comes to mind, we most often think of springtime, with its abundant flowers and April rains. However, fall is an equally important growing season, one for getting new annuals and heartier plants, like shrubs and trees, in the ground. Fall is an important—and advantageous—time for planting because air temperatures are cooling, meaning young plants won’t be exposed to extreme heat or harsh sunlight. Young plants don’t have the resilience to grow with temperatures rising, so autumn is the perfect time to get them in the ground. 

Fall is also a good time for planting because it is versatile and often the weather is more flexible. This is because while the air outside may be cooling down, the soil below stays warm for weeks. This offers protection for plants of all types, from flowers to bushes to trees. This allows you to amplify the diversity of your garden quickly without the pressures of the spring growing season. Below, we’ve offered some tips for ensuring a successful fall planting. 

#1: Start Fresh!

We always recommend that you start with a clean slate. Fall is a nice time to clear out all the debris from the summer, like dead plants, leaves, and weeds, because there isn’t the added pressure of spring planting deadlines. This will also ensure a successful planting season come spring. There is something tremendously satisfying about a clear garden for back-to-school season. A clear garden will ensure happier, healthier plants for the fall that can thrive in an open environment not crippled by the overgrown weeds of summer. Fall is also the best time to get out in the garden and pull weeds and remove debris because the weather is nice and offers relief from the summer heat. 

Clearing out old debris also offers you a clean slate for new topsoil and mulch, which will help your plants grow abundantly but will also give your garden a fresh look for the new season. Hawkins Landscape Supply carries the highest quality mulch and topsoil in many different varieties so that you can find the right one for your garden. 

#2: Test your soil

It is important to establish a routine around testing your soil to ensure that it is nutrient-rich and has adequate drainage to support your plants. If you have never tested your soil before, this is especially important. Soil testing helps you gain information about your soil’s conditions and will offer conclusions about the best ways to improve it. Soil fertility is measured by the chemical, physical, and biological properties in it. While you can glean information about the soil just from looking at it, it is important to understand the nutrient contents and pH level of soil to draw true conclusions about its quality. 

Once you’ve tested your soil and added adequate mulch and topsoil, you can eliminate or minimize spending on fertilizer. Your plants will already be protected by the soil it is rooted in. You can also think about ways to minimize runoff and soil degradation over time, ensuring successful plantings in the spring and in seasons to come.

#3: Choose the right plants for your garden

Every climate is different, and each garden within a climate or neighborhood is also different! Does your garden have a lot of shade? A steep slope where water runs? A lot of sun? Which side of the house is your garden on? These are all important things to consider when determining which plants are right for your garden. Do your research or consult a gardening expert to figure out which plants will do well in your climate and area. Also be sure to choose plants that are well-suited for the fall, and that will be able to survive the winter. 

#4: Time your planting wisely

Even though the fall offers some flexibility in terms of planting timing, it is important to think ahead and time your plantings appropriately. Look at recommendations for your region to pick the best time for a planting. Also be sure to stay attuned to impending weather patterns, like heavy rains, warm spells, or cold fronts to protect new seedlings from harsh weather. 

If an unexpected weather pattern does come your way, respond as you are able, covering your plants or protecting them from the elements using cardboard, tarp, sheets, or blankets. Do some research on the best method for your particular weather pattern or region. 

#5: Water your plants regularly

Even though the fall is generally fairly rainy and of course less harsh than the summer, it is still important to water your plants regularly. Choose a schedule to water your plants to ensure that you don’t forget.  

Beyond watering by hand using a hose or a watering can, you may also want to consider a watering system, like an automated drip irrigation system, which will ensure that you never have to think about your watering schedule again! This is a great choice for the absent-minded or for people who think they don’t have a green thumb—you might just be forgetful! Plants will show their appreciation by growing tall. 

#6: Fertilize as needed

While plants may be happy with just a regular dose of water, they might need an extra boost! Don’t be afraid to give your plants a little love in the form of fertilizer, or pick a nutrient-rich topsoil from the start to ensure that your plants will get the nutrients they require to grow healthy and strong.  

Now, you’re ready to plant! With all of these tips in mind, you are sure to have a successful fall planting season, and a beautiful garden year-round. 

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