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Down the Garden Path: Fall is for... (an informal to-do list)

Richard Hentschel
Richard Hentschel

Fall is for more than planting trees (although it is true that fall is a great time for that – see more below).

Fall also is the time to do so many activities in the home landscape.

These are not just weekend activities, but things that can be done in small bits, even on weekday evenings. Before you know it, that daunting work is finished!

For the home lawn

• New seeding with good soil preparation

• New sodding with good soil preparation

• Core aeration alone

• Core aeration with topdressing

• Core aeration with topdressing and over seeding

• Provide a fall fertilization

• Have a soil test done to get a benchmark

• Mow until cold weather as needed

• Sharpen the mower blades for next spring

For the perennial beds

• Fall weed management

• Cut back and clean up appropriate perennials

• Apply compost to the beds

• Have a soil test performed as a benchmark

• Plant spring flowering bulbs

New bed preparation for
2020 growing season

• Have a soil test done for the first time

• Clear the area of turf and weeds

• Work the soil as deep as possible

• Apply compost to the new bed

• Work the compost into the soil profile

Build your first compost pile
or fill a compost Bin

• Add those greens (including lawn clippings) and browns (including fallen leaves) as you clean up annual and perennial beds

• As it is built, mix well

• Add some soil as a starter or activator during the build and whenever you add to the pile or bin

• Add water and keep it moist for good decomposition

• Finally, fall is for planting trees, shrubs and evergreens

Before you buy and plant

• Consider location, soil type, and plant hardiness and choose plants that fit all three categories

• Have utilities and cable located before the first shovelful

• Remember, the planting hole should be wider at the top than at the bottom and of ample size

• Give attention to any circling roots if it is container-grown

When you plant

• Plant trees with the flair roots at the soil line or slightly above the soil line;

• Water well when planted and continue to water well into the late fall, as needed;

• Optionally, mulch with several inches of straw mulch to slow the cold and allow root growth well into the late fall and early winter.

• Richard Hentschel is a Horticulture Extension educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. The 2019 Kendall County Master Gardener Help Desk is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 630-553-5823 during the growing season.

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