Gardeners may view spring as the most important gardening season, but fall has its share of tasks and activities as well. As weather starts to cool, now's the perfect time to...
In most regions (except for the very warmest climates) early fall is the best time to plant garlic. Select the healthiest bulblets from nursery or garden-grown bulbs (supermarket bulbs often are treated with growth retardants and may not sprout in your garden). Plant the bulblets 2 inches deep, 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost date in your area. Garlic takes up to eight months to mature in cold-weather areas, and will be ready to harvest next summer.
Pamper your lawn:
Fall, rather than spring, is often the best time to fertilize your yard. Grasses can use a boost after the summer's heat. Cool-season grasses (fescues, bluegrass, ryegrass) can build up reserve strength for early green-up next spring. Apply a fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 (for example, bags marked 6-2-4 or 8-2-4) according to directions.
If you choose to use chemical weedkillers on your lawn, now's also the time to apply those systemic herbicide treatments to attack dandelions, clover, and many other weeds. Why? As perennials, these plants store up nutrients in their roots for winter, and treatments applied now will be more effective. Catching these weeds at the proper time minimizes the amount of weedkillers you'll use in the future. (As always, be sure to follow label directions with any herbicide.)
Ease back in:
Herbs, geraniums, and other tender container-grown plants that have spent the summer outdoors need attention before you bring them back inside. First, inspect them for disease or insects--you don't want to bring infected plants indoors. Wash off your plants with insecticidal soap and the hose to knock off dirt and small insects. Let plants dry off, and then bring them inside for a few hours every day over the course of a week or so. Gradually increase the amount of time plants spend inside until your plants are acclimated to indoor conditions again. If your plant needs cutting back, now is a good time.