The book of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up...” Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.

For gardeners, the fall is a time to do some things, and not do others. A time to plant some things, and a time to wait for others. The big question is: WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO NOW AND WHAT SHOULD WE PUT OFF UNTIL SPRING. !!!

If you have a dead tree, shrub, or plant, now is a good time to take it out and replace it. If you have a bare spot where some perennials did not make it, fall is the time to fill that spot. August is the time to plan what needs to be done, time to prepare your course of action, and excellent time to improve your soil. What are you going to put in that spot? Drive around and see what other people have that appeals to you or go to your garden center and ask what is new or what they suggest. Take along a digital picture. That is very helpful.

Many garden centers have big signs that say, “FALL IS FOR PLANTING”. Fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. Most garden centers are having sales and if you know what you want, you can get good bargains. 

For some plants, fall is the time to renew. The best time to dig and divide Iris is in August and early September, and for Peonies, dig and divide in September. If you are digging and dividing your Iris or Peonies, make sure you do not plant them too deep. These two perennials will not bloom if planted too deep. For Peonies, the eyes must be less that two inches below the surface and for Iris, the corm should be right at ground level.

In renewing your trees and shrubs this fall, be very careful when and how you prune. If you are not sure, talk to an expert at your garden center or call your local County Extension Educator. DO NOT PRUNE spring blooming shrubs such as Lilac, Forsythia, Bridal Wreath Spirea, and Flowering Almond in the fall, or winter. They should be pruned right after they bloom next spring. Fruit trees and grapes are best pruned in late February or early March. The best time to prune most deciduous trees is also in late February or March before they leaf out.

August 15 to September 15 is the best time in the fall to aerate you lawn and to seed your lawn. Core aeration involves removing plugs from your lawn and this needs to be done at least once per year in order to provide good drainage and help thatch to decompose naturally. Thatch is caused by over fertilization and by mowing your lawn too short and is from the crown of the plant. Thatch does not come from grass clippings left on the yard. As I said, core aeration helps thatch to decompose naturally and is not as hard on the lawn as power raking. Specialists recommend power raking only if the thatch is unusually bad (1/2 inch or more).