Attending to your yard now will save time, money, and maintenance all year long.
Though spring gets all the garden-center glory, fall is a far better time to invest in your landscape. Doing the work now can save you a bundle in upfront costs—and it will continue to pay dividends all year. Not only do autumn plantings require less water and fertilizer, they also will have that much more time to get established before the withering heat of summer, which in warm climates can easily kill new plants. “But even where summers are milder, fall planting is lower cost and lower risk,” says Barbara Pierson, nursery manager at garden catalogue company White Flower Farm. Here’s what to do:
Pick Up Plants For Less
Many nurseries put their stock on sale in the fall to avoid storing it over the winter. You can save 40% to 50% off the price of plants, grass seed, even tools. “Don’t worry if plants have a few brown leaves,” Pierson says. “Remove them from their pots and make sure the roots are vibrant and not mushy.”
Better yet, skip the nursery and get your plants for free. Fall is the best time to “divide” spring-flowering perennials, such as day-lilies and peonies. You can literally cut a piece, roots and all, off your favorite specimens from the yards of friends and neighbors (with permission, of course) and pick a spot for them in your yard. This process is beneficial to the original plant, and something colorful that would otherwise set you back $10 to $20 or more costs absolutely nothing. (See burpee.com for instructions.)
Just make sure to get everything in the ground at least six weeks before your average first ground-freeze date; ask at a local nursery.
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